The growing trend to accommodate consumers' interest in flexible payment options has
driven retailers, restaurants, banks and service providers to offer widespread availability
of credit/debit and cash machine POS card processing. The credit card processing
machine is no longer found only at the cash register in the front of the store. The latest
trends require new thinking to accommodate retrofit, mobile, temporary and handheld
credit processing options.
Examples include handheld waiter terminals, petrol station POS, kiosks at sporting
events, temporary checkouts to accommodate peak periods, etc. Many of these
applications present challenges to traditional methods of connecting a telephone line or
network cable to the POS device. Manufacturers of POS devices have incorporated
wireless technology enabling faster installation at lower cost than wired networks and
facilitating mobile POS solutions.
A common wireless technology used in POS applications is a WLAN radio compliant
with industry standard 802.11. These small, cost effective radios allow POS devices to
communicate wirelessly to a PC network backbone that routes the financial transaction
for approval. However, due to some widely publicized security breaches, many POS
manufacturers and the companies considering implementing wireless POS devices are
understandably concerned about the security of their customer's financial information.
Security researchers who study wireless networks have found an embarrassing
information leak, this one involving a well-known retail giant. Some stores use cash
registers with wireless networks that beam data -- including credit card numbers -- to a
central computer elsewhere in the store. But a hacker can sit in a store's car park and
'listen in' to the data. Indeed, the American consumer electronics retailer Best Buy Co.
recently shut off wireless cash registers at its stores after being alerted to the potential
problem, saying it was investigating the issue.
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