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December 15, 2014, 06:00 pm | Convenience Store News | Tim Gallagher, Nuspire Networks
Original article: http://www.csnews.com/node/74144
Recent breaches that have impacted more than 350 MAPCO Express locations indicate convenience store chains are increasingly becoming prime retail targets for cybercrime activity.
The growing threat of breaches for convenience stores should come as no surprise. The constant stream of customers frequenting these establishments presents increased incentive for cybercriminals to expose in-store vulnerabilities.
Cybercriminals believe store owners have too much on their plates to protect every onsite network entryway within individual locations. Each standalone store has its own individual network computing device and at least one or more in-store access points that cybercriminals can exploit.
One franchisee’s security oversight can lead cybercriminals directly to the central network, giving them the ability to compromise an entire company’s infrastructure while gaining free reign of critical data.
Here are the most common physical vulnerabilities within convenience stores and how cybercriminals are taking advantage:
Stay ahead of threats
With the increasing threat of a breach, it's alarming how many retailers are not putting the support and resources needed into advancing their data breach readiness. A recent study from the Ponemon Institute found that 42 percent of companies have experienced a data breach in the past year, a 10-percent increase from the previous year. Despite this rise, 27 percent of companies didn’t have a data breach response plan or team in place.
The first step to improving a store’s network security is getting educated on potential entryways cybercriminals can easily access. By viewing physical and virtual vulnerabilities through the eyes of a hacker, convenience stores are better able to strengthen the security surrounding each vulnerability.
Another way to get smart on overall security posture is to hire a contractor or information technology staff to conduct a security audit. This will provide insight into the threat landscape for all potential vulnerabilities in your network — in-store, as well as those from employees or ex-employees. If unsure of how security is set up, chances are there are more areas for intrusion than a retailer might think.
Employees are often the first line of defense when protecting a network, so educating them on data breach readiness and training them not to divulge information or allow entry (i.e., tell customers about issues with POS systems, allow unscheduled maintenance personnel to fix wireless signal, etc.) will make it harder for cybercriminals to get in. Training should include how to monitor the unexpected entry points cybercriminals use, and to report suspicious activity to the correct authorities.