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How Secure Is Verifone?

by on July 18, 2011

Verifone Logo

Verifone is a company that produces point-of-sale equipment for merchants and businesses. It enables business owners to accept credit cards, albeit at a cost: retailers pay significant costs for the card reader, as well as each transaction.

Verifone’s fierce arch-rival is Square: the new electronic payment service that reads  via your iPhone, iPad, or Android-based mobile phone. The system basically revolutionizes the credit card payment industry. While Verifone costs roughly $700 for small businesses, Square is simply a downloadable app.

Verifone made the war public when CEO Doug Bergeron made an online plea to Americans that the inexpensive Square contained numerous security flaws in its technology.

So, which is really more secure: Verifone or Square? Not their devices—but their actual offices. Last month I journeyed to the downtown San Francisco offices of Square, made it past all the paper signs warning to keep the doors closed, and got inside the Square offices.  That’s right: the offices of Square are as insecure as a 13-year-old girl with braces.

In order to be as fair and balanced as FOX News, I decided to put Verifone to the same test: I journeyed to their offices at 2099 Gateway Place in San Jose, California. My goal was to see if Verifone’s offices are more secure than Square’s.

Verifone’s offices are located in a non-descript office park, right across the 101 Freeway from eBay and PayPal. On first glance, their building says: “No expensive point-of-sale equipment inside here!”

Unlike Square, however, Verifone has a courtyard with a pool! Maybe this is the modern-day equivalent of a medieval moat? A very cunning security measure indeed. Making it even more secure, the pool/moat is encased behind bars. Someone attempting to break into Verifone’s offices would first have to climb a fence, after which they would fall into the moat/pool. Clever!

Further security measures: you can’t get inside the offices of Verifone unless you make it past the jagged rocks that flow water. But I beat the system. (Insert maniacal laugh here.) Like Tom Cruise in that scene from Mission: Impossible where he was darting the laser security device, I simply climbed over them—it actually wasn’t as difficult as it appeared. (Though it did soak all my clothes.)

Onward to the bowels of the Verifone building. After narrowly escaping the jagged security rocks that flow water, I momentarily got disoriented: which way to the Verifone offices? No need to fret (and a strike against their security measures), they foolishly left a map right out in front. I simply needed to follow the path to 2099! I could hardly believe they could be so lax in this area of security.

Unlike Square, there wasn’t an ominous NO TRESPASSING sign taped by the front entrance. Inside the 2099 building, I was immediately accosted by a real, live security guard who asked me the Riddle of the Sphinx: “Can I help you?”

Keeping my head, and thinking fast, I threw out the first thing that came to mind: “I’m trying to find the FedEx office.” (Fortunately, there happened to be a FedEx office in the lobby of the building.) After filling out numerous FedEx forms with phony addresses, I made a break for the elevator and the 6th floor.

There it is: the Verifone sign with its corporate logo. I broke into their system just as easily as I did the Square offices—and it didn’t cost me $700 to do so.


My moment of glory is short-lived. The security guard has apparently been following me, and I’m escorted from 2099 Gateway Place in San Jose, and told never to come back.

CONCLUSION: CEO Doug Bergeron was right; Verifone is (slightly) more secure than Square!

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