Keeping Your Restaurant Safe From Cybersecurity Attacks

It’s difficult to turn on the news these days without hearing about another cybersecurity attack. From the largest meat producer to a major oil pipeline, no company seems to be untouchable. Cybercrimes, however, don’t just hit the big conglomerates. According to Small Business Trends, 43% of cyber-attacks target small businesses.

Are Restaurants Ready to Defend Themselves?

Unfortunately, only 14% of small businesses reported their ability to mitigate cyber-attacks and limit their vulnerabilities as highly effective. Even worse is this statistic: 60% of small companies go out of business within six months following a cyber-attack.

Recently, Dotty’s, a Nevada-based fast food and gambling chain with 175 locations, reported a cyber-attack on its network. The malware enabled cyber-criminals to gain access to their records and copy data. Some of the data that may have been stolen includes social security numbers, names, birthdates, driver’s license numbers, financial account information, and credit card numbers.

How do Cyber-Criminals Gain Access?

According to TechRadar, 90% of data breaches are caused by human error. Human error can be as simple as downloading a report or clicking on a link. Modern Restaurant Management reported typical actions that put restaurants at risk. These include:

  • Using the same password for multiple accounts.
  • Opening an email attachment.
  • Sending sensitive information electronically.
  • Using unsecured Wi-Fi networks.

The Cost to Restaurants

Many businesses go under following an attack due, in part, to the direct cost. These costs can come in the form of ransomware or the fee of a forensic audit, which can range from $10,000 to over $100,000. In addition, customer lawsuits for failure to protect confidential data and a tarnished brand can also result in significant losses.

The Steps Restaurants Can Take

Unless you’re an IT expert, cybersecurity can seem like an overwhelming topic. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to help protect yourself. While no one can eliminate all risks, you can minimize the chances of a successful attack.

  1. Use Secure Passwords: It’s easy to forget passwords. Therefore, it may seem like limiting your passwords to just a few gives you the best chance of successfully remembering them for your many accounts. Unfortunately, hackers use multiple avenues in an attempt to obtain passwords, including phishing emails and keyloggers. In addition, many get passwords from large databases when information is stolen from large companies. Consider using an online password manager. While another “online” tool may seem contrary to security measures, most cyber-security specialists recommend this approach for protecting your passwords.
  2. Advanced Malware Protection: Advanced malware protection software is designed to prevent malicious software and viruses from making their way into your computer. If they do make it in, the software is created to detect and remove the threat.
  3. Payment Card Industry (PCI) Compliance: If you accept credit cards, you must be PCI compliant. Most credit card processors report that their hardware and software solutions are PCI compliant. In addition to using a compliant processor, your restaurant must also be compliant.
  4. Check Emails: Before opening an email, check the sender’s address. You can often spot a cybercriminal because their email address does not correspond with the business they say they’re representing. Do not click on any email attachments unless you know the sender, and make sure that your employees know this policy, as well.
  5. Secure Wi-Fi Networks: Secure Wi-Fi networks with unique passwords and set up a guest network so that customers will not have access to your primary Wi-Fi network. While guests may not be actively trying to gain access to secure data, they may have malware on their smartphone or tablet that they are unaware of. Additionally, hide your business Wi-Fi so that others cannot see it.

The National Restaurant Association’s Cybersecurity 201 guide supplies a comprehensive list of actionable steps you can take to move in the right direction toward a more secure system.

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