- 1.Background check, train, and warn your employees
- 2.Invest in end-to-end encryption
- 3.Have robust POS security solutions
- 4.Use security firewalls
- 5.Regularly update software, devices, and operating systems
- 6.Ensure strong security for all wireless connections (WiFi)
- 7.Engage in continuous backups
- 8.Patch management & vulnerability scanning
- 9.Vet your third-party vendors
- 10.Store/use passwords securely
The restaurant industry is susceptible to cyber-attacks and threats, like any other industry. Restaurants see lots of credit card transactions, which is a breeding ground for hackers trying to get credit card information.
Successful cyberattacks on restaurants bring severe consequences. They leave restaurant operators with serious reputational damages that lose them clients and cause heavy financial losses. According to the 2021 IBM cost of data breach report, hospitality data breaches cost $3.03 million on average. Below, you’ll learn how to improve restaurant cybersecurity to protect yourself and your customers.
Tips to Improve Restaurant Cybersecurity
Luckily, you can adopt several methods and practices to boost restaurant cybersecurity. Here are ten of the best ones.
1. Background check, train, and warn your employees
Every time a data breach happens, we often look at external causes. However, some of the most devastating attacks that have occurred in the past have been insider jobs.
The 2022 Ponemon Cost of Insider Threats report gives a fascinating insight into insider threats. According to the report, negligent and malicious insiders seriously threaten an organization’s cybersecurity.
The report shows that insider threat incidents have risen by 44% over the past two years, with the cost of insider threats rising to $15.38 million.
Your employees could threaten cybersecurity, so you need a robust cybersecurity training and awareness program. This program will provide a golden opportunity for you to warn potentially malicious workers against engaging in activities that threaten your restaurant’s security. You can also use this program to train them to spot and prevent phishing attacks.
You might also like: How to Develop a Highly Effective Restaurant Training Manual
Additionally, before hiring your restaurant staff, you must do a thorough background check to establish their intentions, working history, and history with cyber-related activities. You should also ensure they are well-equipped to handle fundamental restaurant cybersecurity issues.
2. Invest in end-to-end encryption
For your restaurant website, you need proper security to ensure the privacy of online transactions between the browser and the site’s server. When a customer pays online, they shouldn’t fear third-party intervention.
SSL certificates can do this job easily by encrypting online information and ensuring that the data remains intact and secured. Multiple types of SSL certificates are available on the market, so you can choose per your site’s requirements.
If your restaurant site has multiple subdomains, it’s best to get a Wildcard SSL certificate. If the site has no subdomains, a standard SSL certificate will efficiently work for you.
3. Have robust POS security solutions
According to the 2019 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, 89% of all successful data breaches that targeted restaurants were made through POS intrusions.
Going by these figures, your POS is vulnerable to security threats and should be protected at all costs. The following tips can help you secure your restaurant’s POS against intruders:
- Conduct regular checks on card skimmers, cables, or any other forms of intrusions
- Do not allow (minimize) card swipes
- Update your POS software regularly
- Install anti-malware software on your POS and all devices connected to the POS
- Set up strict permission restrictions for your POS
- Get end-to-end encryption for your POS
- Keep a close eye on all activities happening on your POS system.
4. Use security firewalls
A security firewall is one of the best ways to secure your restaurant’s network from attackers. The purpose of a firewall is to monitor and control all incoming and outgoing traffic on the network. The firewall will prevent any malicious traffic from reaching your system.
A firewall is, in fact, the first line of defense that protects your restaurant from malicious traffic. It also acts as a barrier that keeps malware-infected devices from infecting other devices on your restaurant’s network.
You must buy and install a security firewall and hire a node.js developer if you care about your restaurant’s cybersecurity.
5. Regularly update software, devices, and operating systems
The story of Equifax might not relate specifically to the restaurant industry. Still, it is a good case showing why updating your software is essential.
Equifax was the victim of one of the most devastating data breaches that exposed sensitive information belonging to over 147 million people. Hackers leveraged a software loophole to get into Equifax’s systems.
An update that rectified the software loophole had been available two months before the attack, but Equifax failed to install it.
Your restaurant could be the next Equifax if you do not take software updates seriously. These updates come to fix security vulnerabilities that exist in the current software versions.
If you fail to update the software, you choose to live with the vulnerabilities. Sooner than later, hackers will leverage these vulnerabilities to bring your restaurant’s networks down.
6. Ensure strong security for all wireless connections (WiFi)
Wireless connections are another potential weak link to your restaurant’s cybersecurity. There are various WiFi-related attacks, such as evil twin attacks, shoulder surfing, wireless sniffing, and wardriving.
All these attacks could compromise the security of your restaurant. If your restaurant provides free WiFi to customers, you must take several measures to ensure your visitors are safe from attackers targeting WiFi connections.
Here are some measures to ensure WiFi security:
- Change default passwords for your WiFi
- Encourage your customers to use virtual private networks when connecting to your WiFi hotspots
- Restrict WiFi access to authorized users only
- Protect your service set identifier
7. Engage in continuous backups
Most restaurant owners overlook backups until they lose vital data. It is impossible to recover lost data without a reliable backup and restore strategy.
Backups are like contingency plans you run to whenever things go south, such as when hackers steal data, data is lost, or a system failure occurs.
You should note that even the most reliable and secure systems have fallen prey to attackers. So, none of the measures explained herein can give you absolute immunity from hackers.
The best strategy is to back up your data regularly to cushion your restaurant from the impacts it will suffer when unexpected risks come knocking.
8. Patch management & vulnerability scanning
It takes a single unaddressed vulnerability in your restaurant system to bring down the entire system. These vulnerabilities are almost unidentifiable.
The best strategy is to conduct regular vulnerability scans to unearth small loopholes that could cause significant security breaches. You can adapt the ethical hacking strategy or hire an IT expert to scan your vulnerability.
You should patch any loopholes discovered during the scan immediately. It is also wise to conduct these scans regularly to stay ahead of potential attackers targeting your restaurant systems.
9. Vet your third-party vendors
Hackers can use your vendors as a pathway to your restaurant’s network. A good example is the PDQ attack. The attack happened after a remote access tool used by one of the vendors was leveraged by attackers. The attack forced the restaurant chain to shut its doors for a year.
It would be best to remain vigilant, especially when granting vendors access to your networks. For instance, you should vet your vendors and be sure of their cybersecurity approaches before granting them access. This will help prevent cybersecurity vulnerabilities in your restaurant.
10. Store/use passwords securely
Most hackers will try out brute force, dictionary, and similar attacks before proceeding to other hacking techniques. Your restaurant system is vulnerable if it has not implemented these best password practices:
- Create passwords that blend all types of characters
- Store passwords safely (you can use password manager tools like LastPass or Dashlane)
- Never reveal your passwords to secondary parties – not even your close friends and family members
- Make your passwords as unique as possible
- Your passwords should be seven or more characters long.
And there you have them: ten tips to improve restaurant cybersecurity. It is now time to implement these measures and boost the security of your restaurant’s networks.
Ensure you implement at least five measures on this list. As a general rule, the more cybersecurity measures you implement for your restaurant’s networks, the more secure they will be.