Breaches like Chipotle’s reiterate that multi-location restaurant security requires a new approach, beyond maintaining PCI compliance and implementing a managed firewall, which are absolute essentials.

Unfortunately, many products and service providers simply do not have the ability to stop cybercriminals before they do real damage.

To achieve a high level of protection, restaurants should consider implementing the following technologies as part of a comprehensive ‘toolbelt,' including:

File integrity monitoring, to tell you when files have changed that weren’t supposed to change. Unified threat management appliances, which are used to integrate security features such as firewall, gateway antivirus, and intrusion detection. Security information and event management, which is used to centrally collect, store, and analyze log data and other data from various systems to provide a single point of view from which to be alerted to potential issues. And next-generation endpoint security solutions, which can stop attacks on the endpoint computers and servers before they can wreak havoc on other systems.

Bloomberg News
Bloomberg News

These advanced tools should ideally be outsourced to a managed security firm that specializes in this type of service, which includes having expert threat researchers that are constantly looking for new activity that could point to a hacker trying to steal data from your systems.

That can help fight the top five virtual attacks that restaurant brands and franchisees need to be ready for, including:

Hackers: These highly skilled computer experts use their knowledge to exploit or break into connected devices and computer systems. They target restaurants due to the abundance of poorly secured systems. Once they find a vulnerability and get into the network, they go after the point of sale systems. Due to the point of sale doing the simple job of processing transactions, the typical alarm bells of a desktop computer hack would not be seen by a user, for example, ransomware messages, degraded performance, etc.

POS malware: Sometimes malware discreetly slips by antivirus programs and then stealthily extracts payment data, despite the presence of traditional firewalls. From there, it can nab stolen data slowly, making it look like normal traffic. Weeks or months could go by. By then, who knows how many customer credit cards have been breached?

Ransomware: Imagine logging into your back-office system only to be greeted with a frozen screen. You cannot access your files and then see a ransomware message: Pay $15,000 to access encrypted files. There’s nothing that can be done at that point. Ransomware prevents users from accessing their system until a ransom is paid to get a decryption key of some kind. Ransomware attacks are on the rise and there is no end in sight.

Inside threats: Whether it’s an honest mistake or a disgruntled employee, inside threats account for about 50 percent of all security incidents, according to the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report. It’s nearly impossible to stop this from occurring, but with the right managed security in place, it can be thwarted or caught before real damage is done.

Wi-Fi security: Your family-friendly Wi-Fi offering is a must-have for many consumers today. Securing your Wi-Fi with firewalls and ensuring cellular backup from downtime will protect your cashflow, your own restaurant’s security, and patrons’ security. Having separate Wi-Fi access points for patrons versus the POS and business network is crucial. But now that you have the Wi-Fi access points secure and separate, what about downtime? You can lose connection at any time, and lost connection means lost business. Having a backup cellular option in place is easy, affordable, and imperative today.

John Christly

John Christly

John Christly is global chief information security officer of Netsurion.