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Restaurants are Perfect Targets for Data and Network Security Threats

Posted by C Henry on Tue, Mar 21st, 2017

Restaurants are tough to manage. Most owners aren't IT savvy, but they want to attract more customers using technology. They offer free Wi-Fi, wireless credit card processors, and inadvertently leave themselves open to a variety of web threats. Any business that offers Wi-Fi access runs the risk of web threats, so owners should have an expert review security and apply the right technology to protect customers.

Card Fraud

Restaurant owners are used to card fraud, but Internet fraud is different. Wireless card processing units are the most vulnerable to theft. Consider the Target credit card theft. The POS technology did not encrypt credit card data in memory, and hackers were able to get these numbers in plain text. Whenever you transfer wireless credit card data, always make sure encryption is enabled.

Guest Wi-Fi

Guest Wi-Fi is where many hackers target your customers. Some of them create their own hotspots with a name similar to yours. In this case, there isn't much you can do other than make sure your customers know the SSID of your official Wi-Fi connection. If you offer guest Wi-Fi, you must have a firewall separating your guest Internet access from the internal network and your employee's Internet access. Never integrate the two together, because it puts your private customer data at risk. This problem is much more technical and usually takes a security expert to set up the right hardware and connection for your users.


When employees have access to the Internet, you run the risk of insider threats. Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center found out what happens when hackers successfully get users to open malicious software. Other phishing attacks attempt to get your employees' login credentials so that they can access the internal network either from the Internet or even from your local Wi-Fi connection.

Phishing is a difficult attack to defend against, because it takes employee training and filtering. You can install email filtering technology to block suspicious emails, but you still must educate your employees to notice the red flags in suspicious phishing emails.

Web Threats

There are numerous other web threats associated with Internet access. You can't protect from every threat 100%, but you can make strides to protect your own information as well as your customers'. Web threats can be anything from downloads that contain malicious software to phishing emails to web pages that contain malware. You can install web filtering software that blocks known malicious threats. This is probably the most common method, but training employees is the best solution. Just remember that most malware now is installed from insider threats. Outside hackers are also a threat from man-in-the-middle attacks on your public Wi-Fi, but huge data losses are usually from phishing or even a disgruntled employee.

Once you enable web access, your security will be greatly reduced. If you don't know the right security to install, you need a professional.  Skimping on security is when corporations -- even restaurants -- fall victim to successful hacks where all of your customers' data is at risk. It's better to implement the right security now rather than losing your brand's trust and customer loyalty.

Data Breaches Lead To Reputational Damage for Brands. 

Not a month goes by without similar breaches happening. Whether it is the OPM breach, the Target breach or even smaller breaches that are not as well publicized, data breaches seem to happen at regular enough intervals that most businesses are not wondering anymore if they will be hacked but when? Information security professionals tend to agree on the fact that most businesses have already been breached, but might not be aware of it. Threat actors vary in size, motivations and capabilities. 

Target is still battling reputational damage as a result of its breach. The breach has had a lingering negative impact on its customer service and reputation scores. I’m not sure what Ashley Madisons reputation was like before the breach but I’m sure  people will be less likely to subscribe to their services in the future.

How do you provide such a network?

Using WebTitan Cloud for Wi-Fi, a cloud based content filtering solution for your Wi-Fi environment.  It provides a secure setting for Wi-Fi guests to browse online by preventing exposure to inappropriate content and protecting the integrity of the network by blocking malware. It takes care of all the complexities of content filtering and security while presenting a logical interface that requires no training. It requires NO software installation and NO need for technical expertise to set up or manage customer accounts – it’s that simple. You can create new accounts easily and manage any number of locations.

Help your guests use Wi-Fi:

  • Make sure that your guests know the name of your Wi-Fi network: Normally, multiple wireless networks are available near a restaurant orhotel. Cybercriminals set up “rogue networks” with names similar to that of the restaurants Wi-Fi network, hoping that guests will join their network and divulge usernames and passwords or proprietary business information.
  • Offer a secure login page for signing on: The "https://" prefix ensures the login page is encrypted to protect guests’ personal information.
  • Since guests rate Wi-Fi as a top restaurant amenity, managers would do well to use it to gain competitive advantage for their business.

Would you like to learn more about securing your restaurants guest Wi-Fi? Talk to a specialist or  Email us at with any questions.

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