Can wireless be more secure than wired?
We had an interesting discussion about wireless security in the recent X9 meeting. This was in the context of the new X.112 Part 2 standard, Wireless Management and Security — Part 2: ATM and POS. The interesting part was that the claim was made that wireless connectivity to ATM and POS devices can actually increase security. This may have been the first time that I ever heard someone make this claim about wireless technology.
The claim that wireless is more secure that wired connections to ATM and POS devices is based on the fact that it’s harder to cut the connection to a wireless device than to a device with a wired connection. Many ATM and POS devices trigger alarms when they’re tampered with, and it’s easier for a hacker to cut a wired connection than to cut a wireless connection. Cut the connection for the alarm and you can attack an ATM at your leisure.
Some payment devices also only transmit transaction data to a back-end system in large batch transactions that take place once every day or two. If this is the case, then an attacker has a fairly big window of opportunity in which to attack one of these systems. The claim is that wireless connections will eliminate the need for such batch processing, which will then limit the exposure of the wireless systems to hackers.
From what I heard from banks at the X9 meeting, it sounds like wireless banking and wireless payments are becoming fairly widespread. I found it interesting that banks perceive wireless to have advantages as well as disadvantages in these cases.