Best Buy: May Day Mayday for Security

Saturday, 15 June 2002, 3:31 PM EST

Imagine Best Buy's surprise when it found on May 1 that customers' credit card data and other transaction information at some of its 1,900 stores had been left vulnerable to electronic snooping, thanks to the use of portable point-of-sale (POS) terminals connected to the stores' servers by a wireless local area network (LAN).

The POS systems in question relied on the increasingly popular 802.11b wireless networking standard, also known as WiFi. But the $15 billion consumer-electronics retailer apparently did not use even the most fundamental security features of WiFi, leaving information passed over the wireless network unencrypted.

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