Network Security Designs for Your Retail Business

The 2015 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) estimate of $400 million financial loss from security breaches show the importance of managing the breaches and ensuring appropriate security infrastructure is put in place. Retail industry saw high-profile retail breaches this year through RAM scraping malware aimed at point-of-sale (POS) systems. The security breaches affect both large and small organizations. According to Verizon 2015 DBIR, attackers gained access to POS devices of small organizations through brute-force while larger breaches were a multi-step attack with some secondary system being breached before attacking the POS system. This article highlights the key design considerations to build and deploy a secure, scalable and robust retail network.

Secure Network Design Considerations

Organizations need to ensure that their networks are resilient, secure and robust. Security solution put in place must not be a knee-jerk reaction to an attack but rather a comprehensive protection solution. A typical retail location requirement includes support for POS systems, Guest Wi-Fi access, Employee access to restricted resources, third party vendor access to limited resources and reliable Internet connection with no downtime. Given these requirements, following strategies are recommended in the retail network design –

1. Network Segmentation – It is important to segment the retail network into multiple networks. This ensures that an attack on a particular device in a network does not infest the entire network. A simple, flat network design is an easy access for an infested POS terminal to bring the entire network down. Create separate networks for – POS terminals, Guest Wi-Fi devices, Employee access to restricted information and 3rd party vendor access (limited & appropriate access).

2. Access Control – Install strict access controls on all network segments to ensure how devices communicate within and across network segment(s).

3. VPN Tunnels – Create site-to-site VPN tunnels between retail location and centralized data center location to ensure all traffic originating from a POS system is always encrypted. Typically customer sensitive credit card information is encrypted when validating over internet. However, simple management data such as login credentials may not be encrypted and could pose an entry point for a security breach.

4. Security – SonicWall 2015 Annual Threat Report findings show 109% increase in the encrypted connection traffic from last year. This potentially means that attackers could be using encryption as a way to hide their malware from firewalls. It is imperative to use a Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW) that performs deep packet inspection on all traffic including encrypted ones. Deep packet inspection services such as Intrusion Prevention, Malware detection and Content Filtering are strongly recommended to reduce the risk of intrusions and malware attacks. Additionally, enable endpoint anti-virus on all POS terminals for increased security.

5. Reliability – Retail networks need to be secure, and fault tolerant with zero-downtime. For fault tolerance at smaller retail location, it is recommended to use 3G/4G backup failovers with a multi-ISP provider strategy. For heavier traffic retail location, NGFWs deployed in High-Availability mode provides for un-interrupted connectivity.

6. Guest Wi-Fi – Retail locations are increasingly using guest Wi-Fi access as a means to increase their business and stickiness with customers. For guest Wi-Fi, create a locked-down Internet-only network access for visitors or untrusted network nodes. Choose a solution that provides guest services with the latest wireless technology such as 802.11ac for increased bandwidth.

The SonicWall Next Generation Firewall based security solution provides an integrated approach to addressing all the requirements of a typical retail network. For more information on best practices for securing your retail network, download this white paper.

Sathya Thammanur
Product Line Manager, SonicWall TZ and Network Security | SonicWall
Sathya Thammanur is the Senior Product Manager for SonicWall Network Security products, covering Next-Generation Firewalls for small and mid-size businesses. Prior to this position, Sathya worked in various roles including product management, product marketing and software engineering at Cypress Semiconductor and Xilinx Inc. with over 12+ years of experience in semiconductor industry. Sathya holds an MBA from the Haas School of Business at U.C. Berkeley, an MS in Computer Engineering from University of Cincinnati and a B.E. in Computer Science from University of Madras.
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