Alaskan Restaurant and Retail Technology Trends - September 2018

     

Once a year, we travel to the Lower 48 to a conference called RetailNOW.  We meet with point of sale companies just like Skurla’s and with the nation's leading vendors.  It’s an amazing event that helps us find out what the future holds for the hospitality/retail industries, but it also provides us with a wealth of information on how we can better serve you. This year’s event was in Nashville and for us Alaskan’s, 90+ degree days are way too hot. But the knowledge we bring back makes it all worth while.

Business man pointing to transparent board with text Choose your Future

One of the biggest issues we saw at the show was something that’s come up all too often: security. It should come as little surprise to those that read the local news, with high profile hacks happening to the Mat-Su borough and Valdez. These local governments have large budgets to deal with this type of thing, but they were still compromised. We were all ears when they spoke about how we can protect our merchants, and let me tell you, they had a lot to say. The biggest areas of concern with around Password Strength and Insecure Remote Access for merchants.

Password Strength

On passwords, studies show that merchants are using common words and in general weak passwords. Things like “1234567”, “111111”, “2222222”, “admin”, “login”, or simply changing the number at the end, like: “password1”. Experts recommend that you use pass phrases in combination with numbers and special symbols; for example: “$82OrangeAlligator”. With a pass phrase like the above, it’s a combination of numbers, a special character and two things that mean nothing to me but that are easily memorable (one being a color and the other an animal).

There are some debates as to whether a complex password is better than a long one. A short password doesn’t stand up to a brute force attack (where a program runs through millions if not billions of combinations until it finds the correct one). A long password, 12 characters or more, makes it extremely difficult for a hacker to break. Click here to read my article on Why You Should Have A Password Manager and find out how this indispensable tool can make managing your passwords incredibly easy.

Insecure Remote Access

Remote Access is something that most of us in the business world need but has been another attack vector for hackers. It’s not all doom and gloom though. Most remote access software has a feature called Two Factor Authentication or even Multi-Factor Authentication. The most common method is Two Factor and is easy to setup. It’s typically comprised of:

  • User name/password
  • Code verification – codes either emailed to your or texted to you.

Two Factor is the most common out there, and it can be setup in snap. If you’re going to go with text messaging, make sure your phone is setup to auto-lock and have a complex password/PIN and or fingerprint security.  Also, make sure that your text messages aren’t displaying in locked mode, or else someone could get the verification code without unlocking your phone! Multi-factor ups the ante by adding yet another method of verification, making remote access very secure.

Using a Two Factor/Multi-factor authentication in addition to a strong password is a great place to start, but be wary of the remote access tool you use. Outdated software and known vulnerabilities could still leave you open to an attack.

Other Thoughts

We didn’t really see major innovations in technology per se, but rather a marked improvement in newer technology unveiled in previous years, making them easier to deploy. Feature like:

  • Pay at the table
  • Contactless payments & EMV (credit cards)
  • Tableside ordering
  • Integrated loyalty (including scan for points)
  • Kitchen Display Systems (eliminates the need for wasteful kitchen printing)
  • Cloud management
  • Online Ordering
  • Call Center management
  • Driver Dispatch
  • Cellular Internet Rollover (crucial for using EMV credit cards)

We’ve got more customers utilizing these technologies every day, because they make  daily operations easier and more efficient. In the coming months, Skurla’s will be highlighting several of these new technologies to show you exactly how you can benefit from them. We’ll also be rolling out other products that lets us take more “off of your plate” and allow you to focus on what makes your business great. Stay tuned!

Alaskans: if you are interested or have questions about anything we’ve covered in this article, feel free to email me at thomas@skurlas.com or give me a call at 907-243-2683 ext. 212.

About The Author

Sales and Operation's Manager for Skurla's POS Solutions, Thomas been with the company for over 10 years. He loves working with our customers and bringing more value to our partnerships. Being in the IT field for over 20 years, he is also an ETA CPP as well as a PCI SSC Qualified Integrator and Reseller (QIR). But don't let all that intimidate you - he is still a down to earth person who will take the time help you out, answer your questions and get you in a solution that works for you! Connect with Thomas on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/thomas-greenman-33233a108/