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5 Ways for Restaurants to Avoid Cyberattacks

A helpful guide for small restaurant owners to protect their business, suppliers, and customers from falling victim to cyberattacks.

3 mins readApril 21, 2023

Author's Bio

Yauhen Zaremba - Director of Demand Generation

Yauhen is the Director of Demand Generation at PandaDoc. He’s been a marketer for 10+ years, and for the last five years, he’s been entirely focused on the electronic signature, proposal, and document management markets. Yauhen has experience speaking at niche conferences where he enjoys sharing his expertise with other curious marketers. And in his spare time, he is an avid fisherman and takes nearly 20 fishing trips every year.

Are you planning your dream restaurant's grand opening or in the early stages of growth? If so, keeping costs low and sales and customer satisfaction high will be at the top of your to-do list. But what about protecting yourself and your customers from cyber-attacks?

Cyber attacks have become a growing concern as, sadly, even some of the biggest restaurant chains have fallen victim to hackers in recent years. For instance, a ransomware attack on the US-based company Yum! Brands resulted in the temporary closure of nearly 300 restaurants in early 2023.

Luckily, in this instance, it only caused a temporary disruption to the restaurants involved. However, had this been a small business, the financial impact of an attack like this could have led to permanent closure.

As data breaches cost U.S. businesses over twice the global average in 2022, it’s clear that there has never been a better time to invest in a smart cybersecurity strategy. Whether you invest in new tech solutions or start training employees on best security practices, there are many effective ways for savvy restaurateurs to avoid cyber attacks.

So, put that new menu on hold for now! It’s time to get clued up on the latest ways to protect your restaurant business from cyberattacks with these five best practice tips.

1. Secure Your Network

To move with the times, restaurants must engage with technology. But forget network security at your peril!

From hackers accessing data through poorly secured POS systems to malicious phishing emails. An unsecured network will leave your restaurant vulnerable to a whole host of cybersecurity threats.

To keep the restaurant network secure, savvy small businesses should consider:

  • Using a firewall.
  • Installing antivirus software.
  • Installing anti-spyware software.
  • Using strong passwords.
  • Setting network router passwords with a secure, encrypted setup.
  • Regularly installing new updates on operating systems, apps, and browsers.
  • Regularly backing up your hard drive (on-premises backup and cloud backup).
  • Identifying spam/junk emails.
  • If possible, shut down POS systems and computers when closed.
  • Setting up two-factor authentication i.e., restaurant intranet systems.
  • Introduce secure electronic signatures to your new cyber security approach.
Lock and keyboard

2. Train Restaurant Staff on Cyber Security

Almost half of cybersecurity breaches are caused by human error. So, the next part of the perfect recipe to avoid cyberattacks starts with your workforce. Teach your staff to identify, prevent and respond to cyberattacks accordingly. This will protect all aspects of the supply chain from financial harm.

Here are three of the most common cybersecurity threats restaurant owners should focus on educating staff about:

POS Malware

Point of Sale malware essentially steals the credit card information held on the system. Restaurant companies attacked by POS malware software include Applebees, Arby's, Chipotle, Shoney's, and Wendy's. Train your staff on detecting unusual activities and minimizing damage by reporting POS attacks efficiently.

Phishing

Phishing is when a fraudster sends electronic messages, posing as a legitimate business to steal personal data. Usually sent by email, increasing numbers of phishing scams are sent via text messages, phone calls, and even social media posts to phish for information.

The number of unique phishing sites detected worldwide is currently around 611,877. So, the danger of a phishing attack is a real threat to small and medium restaurants.

Ransomware

Incredibly, the number of global ransomware attacks in H1 2022 amounted to a breathtaking 236.1 million.

Ransomware literally holds your data for ransom! Hackers will demand money to unblock access to vital computer files. Ransomware is often spread through phishing emails that could easily be avoided with basic cyber security employee training.

3. Review Third-Party Vendor Software

As the popularity of food delivery apps continues to rise, the threat of a restaurant cyber attack remains. So, make sure you conduct thorough research into the cyber security protocols of your third-party vendor software before allowing it access to your network.

The same caution should also be applied to any new software or tools you will likely use. From selecting a trustworthy Word to PDF converter to using secure accounting software, you want to ensure the files you download don’t pose a threat and that your software can’t be hacked.

Gmail screen

4. Use a VPN to Secure BYOD Devices

Bring your Own Device (BYOD) allows employees to use their own devices for work purposes. However, this can also be a way in for determined hackers.

BYOD offers employees greater flexibility whilst increasing workforce mobility, efficiency, and productivity. So, instead of getting rid of it altogether, you should consider:

  • Requiring all employees to use a VPN (virtual private network) when they access company data. A VPN creates a protected connection within a public network. This makes it harder for third parties to track and steal sensitive data.
  • Adding mobile device management software to all BYOD devices. This will facilitate consistent security measures across all devices.
  • Regularly scanning BYOD devices for viruses and other potential dangers.

5. Invest in Cybersecurity Insurance

You can't operate without insurance, and the same sentiment should be attributed to making sure you're covered against cyberattacks.

The impact of one cyber attack on a small restaurant can be truly devastating, especially as you can't put a price on customer trust. So, it's better to prepare for all possibilities and play it safe with cyber liability insurance.

Strengthen Your Restaurant Against Cyberattacks and Never Look Back

With 791,790 cybercrime complaints reported to the FBI in 2020 alone, there's never been a better time to secure your restaurant against hackers. A well-thought-out cyber security strategy can help to avoid the damage, expense, and stress that a cyber attack can inflict.

Keeping sensitive data safe is becoming more important to customers by the day. Showing them you care about protecting their digital privacy with a robust cyber security plan will build essential customer trust where it’s needed most.

Effective cyber attack prevention tools like these really are changing the face of the US food and hospitality industry. And they can help you to revitalize your restaurant business too.

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