What measure can retailers take to minimise the potential security risks of providing shoppers with access to in-store wi-fi?

Offering in-store complimentary wi-fi is becoming increasingly popular, and while retailers are keen to extend this benefit to their end users, they should fully consider the IT security challenges involved.

Florian Malecki, international product marketing director at Dell Security, says: “Public wi-fi must be treated as separate from an organisation’s internal network.

“Public networks require their own set of security solutions, such as firewalls, to protect against external malware threats.”

Malecki advises retailers should “simplify things by implementing a container-style approach to IT security, which separates customer internet access and employee network access. Employees and consumers then gain access to separate portals”.

This ensures there is no crossover of information, and, crucially, that criminals are not able to access the corporate network from the public wi-fi.

It is equally important that tills and other payment tools are not connected to public wi-fi, as cyber criminals can use programmed credit cards to access them through chip and PIN authentication.

Retailers should also consider using content filtering tools in order to protect their users from inappropriate or malicious material as open public networks can also expose users to phishing attacks.

 “These may be attachments or links in emails, either installing malware on a device or enticing users to websites designed to extract sensitive information, such as passwords, account IDs or credit card details,” says Malecki.

“Public wi-fi users should never activate file sharing over a public network unless using a virtual private network connection, and should never use third-party applications as they may have been tampered with.”