Cybersecurity for Restaurants

by Anthony Coppola2 Min Read

Hacking is an increasing problem in our modern world.  Restaurateurs may think they are immune--serving people food and drink is a practice as old as time.  How can you hack a great meal? But the reality is that all businesses are dealing more with computers and information.  And in dealing with sensitive information, particularly others peoples’ sensitive information, it is important to stay safe.

The first thing people usually think of when it comes to hacks is losing customer data.  These losses can be extremely damaging to a business and its reputation.  But also important is employee or potential employee information.  Not long ago, McDonalds Canada had its career website hacked.  

A business may have much more valuable information about its own employees than its customers such as Social Security numbers and bank account information.

The truth is that the legal landscape on hack liability is in a bit of flux, but a number of states have consumer protection laws that allow businesses to be sued for hacked information.

A major hack can also be a PR nightmare.  Bad press can kill a business.  Fortunately, there are some major things that businesses can do to protect themselves. 

  • The first thing to do is stay on top of things.  Technology is constantly changing, and all of us have to change with it.  In fact, in a few years, some of the things on this list may seem silly because the technology may be so vastly different. For example a number of companies are looking at ways of phasing out passwords for more secure biometric systems.
  • But for now, use strong passwords on anything that requires a password. There are endless websites that can suggest good ones, but don’t just use “password” as your password for the system holding everyone’s Social Security numbers.
  • Do system updates. Hackers love to target holes in out of date software.
  • Don’t get hooked by fishing scams.  This can be tricky.  But any link that seems off or too good to be true is not something to click.
  • And if you don’t know if you have things set up correctly.  There is nothing wrong with hiring a cyber-security expert.

Hacks happen all the time.  There is no completely foolproof way to avoid them, but it is possible to greatly reduce the risk.  Another great risk reducing factor from a legal standpoint is purchasing cyber insurance or data theft insurance.  It is usually a rider on a general liability policy and tends to be very inexpensive for the protection it provides.

The digital world offers amazing advantages to restaurants so it is worth planning and using caution to protect the business.

Anthony Coppola

@ppolajabaly | LinkedIn | Website | Email

Anthony Coppola is a Member at the Alexandria, VA law firm Coppola & Jabaly, which serves small businesses. He has practiced law as an appellate litigator at Greenberg Traurig. He also developed his professional skills working at the Legal Writing Pro, the D.C. Public Defender, and the U.S. Department of Labor Office of the Solicitor.

Related Articles