Orginially posted on QSR Magazine October 11, 2016
Fuzzy’s security strategy makes sure its customers aren’t risking their personal data when visiting a store.
Briton Smetzer, director of IT operations at Dallas-based Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, recently received a message no tech professional wants to see. It was an intrusion alert, meaning something strange could be happening inside the company’s network.
Smetzer knew that restaurants, including quick serves and fast casuals, are appealing targets for cyber criminals. Per Fuzzy’s plan for such a scenario, he immediately called Cradlepoint, the brand’s security partner specializing in network solutions. Shortly after, a Cradlepoint engineer told him the alert was a false positive. The only strange thing happening was a Windows update.
“Wendy’s has had two waves of attacks over the span of an entire year, and they’re just now catching up,” Smetzer says in reference to the burger giant’s security breaches. “I was able to get clarification on an intrusion in six hours. The Cradlepoint support is tremendous.”
When it comes to cyber security, “the best defense is an aggressive offense,” says Collin Hite, leader of the insurance recovery group at Hirschler Fleischer law firm in Virginia. Having partners and plans in place, like Smetzer did, can enable restaurants to learn the facts promptly in the event of a data breach. Fast knowledge and fast responses can mean big savings, as well as less PR damage.
“If you don’t properly handle a response in the first 72 hours, the cost of responding is at least three times higher,” Hite says.
Technological developments have improved restaurant operations in myriad ways, but they have also created new opportunities for cyber criminals. Ten years ago, hackers had to be highly skilled with computers and had to possess expensive, specialized equipment to pull off a data breach, Hite says. Today, practically anyone can buy credit-card information off the Internet. The increased data access points—such as online reservation apps, loyalty apps, and WiFi service—only make it easier for criminals looking to breach restaurants.