The great food and drink pivot to digital has saved many businesses. But now cybersecurity has to become a priority
The Covid-19 pandemic triggered a colossal shift into the digital world. For many businesses across a vast range of sectors, the expansion or consolidation of their digital presence provided a lifeline in response to the shutdown of bricks and mortar stores. The food and drink industry in particular found salvation in digital operations as the pandemic continuously caused blow after blow to customer demand and footfall.
Many businesses adopted new tech and new digital channels in 2020 to survive. These were instrumental in facilitating food delivery, click and collect and many other practices that allowed them to continue serving their customers. Platforms that process card payments, store card data and gather personal information however require attention.
Information security has never been so important within the food and drink industry. Yet according to research published by Gov.uk, the food, drink and hospitality sector invested less than any other on cybersecurity.
So, how can pubs, restaurants, hotels and other businesses counter the cybersecurity threats that could bring their companies down as they emerge from the pandemic.
The cybersecurity risks that pose very real threats
Recent years have seen a sharp rise in the number of cyber-attacks and breaches within the food, drink and hospitality industries. Customer data is, after all, a valuable commodity, but whilst prized by food and drink businesses, it’s also valued by unscrupulous characters.
Cybercriminals are using a wide selection of tools and techniques to take valuable data from food and drink businesses. Identity theft, phishing, social engineering, viruses and malware-based DarkHotel hacking have all been used to infiltrate poorly protected databases.
Data leaks (including the theft of sensitive data such as names, payment information and addresses) and reputational damage have been quick to follow.
Ransomware attacks have also proved lucrative for cybercriminals targeting businesses within the food and drink industry. The ‘Wannacry’ and ‘Petya’ ransomware attacks, for example, hit the headlines after causing breaches in countless organisations around the world.
Data breaches have a devastating impact on businesses big and small – both in terms of financial losses, fines and reputational damage. The latter can trigger a lack of customer trust and as a result, dwindling demand and contributing to future loss of revenue.
Our tips for protecting your food and drink business
Protecting your food and drink business, and the data it possesses is vital. It all begins with employee education, as 85% of breaches involve some form of human element. As your cybersecurity defence’s weakest link embarking on training to educate employees about the latest threats and how to handle them should be a priority.
This can be anything from maintaining best practice in relation to password protection, being vigilant with regards to suspicious emails from unknown sources, managing customer data carefully and even installing the latest software updates as and when they become available.
Investing in top quality cybersecurity software is another must for minimising the impact of cybercrime within your business. There are a number of good antivirus, anti-malware and firewall solutions on the market today that you may invest in.
Beyond this it is advisable to test the vulnerabilities of your digital estate and work towards a reputable information security framework such as ISO27001 or Cyber Essentials. This can feel like a daunting task but with the help of an ISO 27001 consultant it can be made a smooth and seamless process. Even if you do not choose to pursue full certification to this type of standard, working to meet the requirements of these standards on an informal basis can significantly improve an organisation’s risk posture.
Looking to get your food and drink business safe and secure? Why not get in touch with the team at Security Risk Management. Visit www.srm-solutions.com to find out more.