Restaurant Technology

The Importance of Cybersecurity in the Restaurant Industry

The importance of restaurants protecting itself from cybercrime

Are your food servers looking out for your best interests? Is your restaurant website secure against cyber threats? Are you doing everything you can to prevent a massive data breach? If you don’t have an answer to these disturbing questions, then your restaurant may be in danger.

Every day, computer hackers look for new ways to infiltrate our businesses, and restaurants are no exception to this rule. As eateries use new tech to take orders and deliver food, the bad guys are also given more opportunities to steal your data. Here we present some background and a few tips to help make sure that yours is not the next restaurant to fall victim to a data breach.

Cybercrime is a Real Threat for Restaurants

restaurant cybercrime issues

One of the most destructive thoughts any business manager can have is that they are not at risk for cybercrime. As the world of technology advances, so do the threats, and hackers are always looking for a way to take advantage of companies that do not take security seriously. Hackers can use just about any information they can get to ruin your business or your customer’s lives.

Even an email address can allow hackers to gain access to accounts and then to private information, including photos and contact information for friends and family. Of course, restaurants also have access to customer credit card numbers, which is even more dangerous. A credit card number allows hackers to make fraudulent purchases outside of your restaurant’s business and rack up credit card bills that may leave the customer in financial ruin. Not to mention if the hack is traced back to your business, you can expect to have an angry guest and bad review on your hands.

The hacking of company infrastructure and devices has become rampant as of late, and every business is at risk. Not too long ago, Russian hackers broke into 420,000 company websites and stole over a billion usernames and passwords, giving them instant access to company and customer records. The businesses that were hacked included large and small businesses of all types, proving hackers do not discriminate, so data security should be the absolute top priority at your restaurant.

Protect Your Restaurant from Cybercrime

protect your restaurant from cybercrime

If your restaurant is the victim of a data breach, your business could be in a world of trouble. The first threat is the cost, as businesses can see losses between $82,000 to $256,000 due to the need to restore equipment, beef up security, and resurrect their restaurants’ trustworthiness. And that one is the biggest thing. When a company falls victim to a major data breach, things are rarely the same as public trust falters, and guests begin to look elsewhere for their food.

When it comes to proper cybersecurity, it is essential to start from the top. At the corporate office, the education of your employees is key as they need to be up to date on the risks and how to avoid them. Proper passwords should be created and updated regularly, and the most secure passwords should include a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters.

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Employees should also be aware of the dangers of phishing emails that include a link or attachment that, when clicked, allow the hacker access to the system and the private information within. The trick is that they look like authentic emails, but there are a few signs to be aware of:

  • Emails sent from an address that looks real but is off by a couple of letters.
  • Emails with many misspelled words.
  • A link or attachment that you were not expecting.

Your restaurant website should also be the height of security, especially if you use it to take online orders. Ensure that you have proper firewall protection set up on your network and install security applications such as Acunetix WP Security, which is a free plug-in that searches for security vulnerabilities. Most importantly, always have proper backups in place in case you have a breach or a breakdown of equipment because you do not want this information to leak. Backup servers should be checked and maintained regularly.

Mobile Security

restaurant mobile security tips

Every restaurant that you manage also has to have proper precautions in place on a local level, so educating all servers, bartenders, hosts and managers is essential, especially if orders are taken on mobile devices like tablets or cell phones. Every mobile device should be locked between orders or when not in use, and they should be kept in the restaurant at all times and secured so they cannot end up in the wrong hands. At the end of each day, the data from the tablets should be properly backed up or cleared.

Your business can also benefit by requiring background checks of your employees with an emphasis on searching for charges of fraud and other money-related crimes. In many cases, servers take the customer’s card at the end of dinner and process it out of sight. Employees with malicious intentions might take this opportunity to use their cell phones to snap a photo of the credit card number and use the information improperly.

It is also important to be aware of the risks associated with having public wi-fi in your restaurant. If you have wi-fi available, it must be encrypted and secured, or else criminals can sneak in through an open door in your network and steal your information and that of your guests.

Another trick has hackers creating a malicious mobile hotspot that has a name similar to your restaurant’s hotspot, but when customers click on it, they are just giving their information directly to the hacker. Have your security team ensure that only valid hotspots are available to customers and employees alike.

Many restaurant owners simply do not realize that cyber threats can hamper their business as much as any other enterprise. Making an effort to secure the data of your company and customers will ensure that you regain consumer trust for years to come.

About the author

Devin Morrissey