The big data revolution has taken the restaurant industry by storm. With it, new technologies are being developed to help restaurants function more efficiently and with greater impetus towards their customer’s desires.
However, big data has created vast security risks for restaurants. Hackers successfully stole customer information from several big-name restaurants last year alone. Some of those affected include Panera Bread, Burgerville, PDQ, Cheddar’s, Chili’s, Sonic Drive-In, and Dunkin’ Donuts.
Whether it be through an online ordering platform or from a POS system, security breaches that put customer information at risk can drive away your clientele and negatively affect your bottom line.
"If a restaurant owner is successful at the 'Four P's' but fails at cybersecurity, leading to a data breach in which customer data is accessed and/or stolen, they will ultimately lose in the end, and the business repercussions could be felt for a very long time," TGI Friday’s Vice President of Information and Security, Sam Langley, told Restaurant Dive last year.
These security breaches are not only costly for customers, they come with hefty fines and penalties for the affected businesses as well. According to a report by Forbes, the average cost for a single piece of breached data is $150. If your restaurant reports 1 million pieces of breached data, that penalty cost can become insurmountable.
So how can restaurateurs protect themselves from these data breaches?
First, keep your personal and business accounts separate. This will ensure that if someone is able to hack your personal information, they will not also get access to your business. Be sure to have separate email and banking accounts as well. And don’t forget to encrypt. This makes is much more difficult for an outsider to steal your information.
Second, be aware of the dangers around you. Most hacking is not done by randomly guessing passwords. It involves highly sophisticated forms of social engineering. Have you ever received emails from some prince in Nigeria offering you a large sum of money to help him with some shipping transaction? You can be sure that this email wasn’t sent by a real individual. Rather, it’s some hacker trying to get you hand over sensitive information they can use to exploit you.
Third, involve your employees in protecting your data. The more eyes you have on your data, the less likely it is to go missing. Train any employees who have access to your business information in the best practices of avoiding malware, creating strong passwords, and limit their access to websites that are outside the scope of their daily duties. Remember, an educated workforce is your best defense.