Protecting Your Restaurant’s Network in the Age of Hackers

Steve O'ConnorBusiness Operations, Cashflow, Fraud and Security, Merchant Cash Advance, RestaurantLeave a Comment

With retail computer network breaches becoming increasingly common and garnering more media attention, restaurant owners have a responsibility to keep their customers’ personal and financial information private. Preventive strategies can help keep your customers’ information safe and your business running. Here’s some advice you can use to help keep your restaurant’s network secure.

Earlier this month, Dairy Queen and Kmart suffered a large network breach, putting the credit and debit card information of their customers at risk. Both stores released that no personal information, such as debit card PINs or Social Security numbers, were accessed, but the stores now join nearly a dozen other companies that have had their networks compromised with malware in the last year. Restaurants are attractive targets for hackers because of their high volume of credit/debit card transactions and tendency to have less secured network than financial institutions.

Increasing Frequency of Network Attacks and the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things – the network of physical objects accessed through the Internet – creates a new world of problems in network security for restaurant owners. Forbes cites security expert Teresa Law: “[The Internet of Things] increases convenience but it also increases risk. Attackers have more opportunity to steal our information or sensitive corporate data. It makes ensuring that the right people gain access to the right information even more important.”

Security analysts at Symantec labeled 2013 the year of the mega breach with a 62% increase in breaches since 2012. Their 2014 report did not prove to be much better, with cyber criminals becoming more sophisticated in their hacking process, putting small to midsize businesses more at risk than large ones. Analysts at Symantec also noted in The Cyber Resilient Enterprise: Harnessing Your Security Intelligence that a strategy with an integrated approach through increased security intelligence, not just one solution, is a restaurant’s best bet to help prevent a security breach.

How Can You Protect Your Network?

Wi-Fi, security cameras, and operating systems all gain information with an IP address, and each access point holds a possibility of security breach. The National Restaurant Association offers a few tips on how to help keep your network safe:

  • Maintain a strong firewall. Coupled with virus protection software, strong firewalls aid in the prevention of hackers and are required by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS).
  • Conduct regular scans of your network.
  • Limit remote access. Firewalls left open by managers working remotely or through regular maintenance on systems can put your network at risk. Regularly change passwords and do not use default codes to help keep your network safe.
  • Ensure all credit card data is encrypted. Some older point of service (POS) equipment sends and stores raw credit card data, rather than encrypting the data as soon as the card is swiped. Check to make sure your system holds up to the PCI DSS.
  • Make sure your Wi-Fi, security cameras, and digital menu boards run on a separate network from your POS equipment.
  • Keep your software updated.

As a restaurant owner, it is your responsibility to protect your customers’ personal information from data thieves. By understanding how credit card data flows through your restaurant and by following these tips, you can help shore up your network security and help protect your customers from today’s hackers.

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