Wi-Fi, PCI, and Your Business

By Graydon Clarke

Do you have Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi can be a draw for new types of customers, and a good way to bring in business at times that are generally slow.

Even so, some businesses are hesitant to incorporate free Wi-Fi , fearing that it will bring in customers who linger for hours over a cup of coffee. While that can happen, in my experience, it’s the exception. A restaurant where I often go at lunch recently added free Wi-Fi. I find myself heading there after lunch or dinner to grab a snack and get some work done. I was a regular before. But now I’m a regular lunch customer who also spends money there during off-hours—as a direct result of free Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi can also be a great way to promote business lunches; an easy connection for an iPad or laptop makes a lunchtime presentation a whole lot easier. And personal experience aside, other businesses are clearly seeing the benefit, as many are taking the free Wi-Fi plunge.

Is your Wi-Fi secure?

If you’ve decided to add Wi-Fi at your restaurant, or already have it, proceed with caution.

  • Be very sure your Wi-Fi network is secure, and has ZERO access to the POS network.
  • Change your network password regularly, and keep it to yourself.

You’d never think of closing up and leaving the doors unlocked…but an unsecured wireless network is like an open door into your point of sale system that hackers could exploit—a PCI security red flag.

PCI compliance is a major concern for restaurant owners today. As the merchant-owner, you are liable for any breach of customer payment data at your restaurant, and the consequences of a breach can be devastating for any business.

Restaurants that have been breached face fines, fees, and loss of business that can add up to five- and six-figure losses.

In a whitepaper on wireless PCI compliance, Cisco Wireless Systems quoted the cost of a breach at $50,000 for a small business or $500,000 for a franchise chain.

So take advantage of all the benefits of Wi-Fi in your restaurant—but be sure your Wi-Fi is secure. If you’re not, call a network technician for help.


Posted on Wed, Jul 20, 2011 @ 15:07 PM.
Updated on April 16, 2019 @ 2:59 PM PST.

Posted by Graydon Clarke

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Tags: point of sale, Restaurant Payment Security

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