The restaurant industry has had a rough couple of years. In the wake of several large-scale breaches at chain organizations, the sector has begun to introduce new, advanced technologies into its infrastructures. These systems aren’t just aimed at improving data protection, but at offering a better experience for customers as well.
Today, we’ll examine the changing face of the restaurant industry, the types of attacks some businesses have suffered and how new technologies are improving processes across the sector.
Restaurant data breaches: Compromised customer information
Data breaches in the enterprise industry are nothing new. However, when attacks began creeping up more frequently in restaurants across the U.S., many experts were a bit surprised by the malicious activity.
However, when one takes a step back to analyze the situation, hackers’ motivations begin to emerge more clearly. Oftentimes, the purpose of a cyber attack is to gain access to information that can be sold in underground marketplaces or leveraged for fraudulent purposes. Restaurants, like any typical enterprise, have access to consumers’ payment and personal information when they make purchases, making these establishments an increasingly popular target for hackers.
We’ve seen several examples of this type of attack in recent years, including the large-scale breach on the P.F. Chang’s restaurant chain. Trend Micro reported that during the summer of 2014, the company was in contact with the U.S. Secret Service, which had uncovered evidence of a potential breach. After a 2-month investigation, the Secret Service discovered that P.F. Chang’s card processing system was compromised, impacting the credit and debit purchases made at 33 locations.
Analysts found that the breach had initially begun in October 2013, and that hackers had remained active in the payment processing system until the Secret Service notified the restaurant in June 2014.
P.F. Chang’s is by no means the only organization to have this type of event take place. Last year, popular sub shop Jimmy John’s also announced a breach that extended to 216 of its locations. In this case, the point-of-sales system was attacked, leading to the compromisation of customer debit and credit card numbers, and potentially, cardholder names, PINs and expiration dates.
Since these and other breach events have taken place, the restaurant industry has worked to improve service and help enhance customer confidence by integrating new technologies.
New service capabilities, payment options made possible through technology
A recent white paper from Channel Partners noted that restaurant technology is now becoming increasingly advanced, not only to address security issues, but to better meet customer needs as well.
One such enhancement deals with restaurants’ POS systems, which now accept more varied payment options. Many establishments now offer support for mobile payments through online ordering systems.
“Today, restaurants want a POS that can handle mobile and electronic wallet payments from multiple vendors,” the white paper pointed out. “[O]utdated on-premises POS systems – at fault in the Target and other high-profile breaches – put customers at risk. Restaurants are challenged to keep systems current on security patches and updates.”
According to the 2015 Hospitality Technology Study, more than half – 56 percent – of restaurants surveyed noted that their POS must be able to accept payment from mobile wallets. In addition, 47 percent are now looking to replace their current POS with something newer and more secure.
The white paper noted that while keeping systems patched and up-to-date is difficult for restaurants, the cloud has been a huge help in this area. Now, more companies are utilizing cloud-based POS technology that offers enhanced security over legacy systems maintained on-site.
“By partnering with an MSP or service provider for a cloud-based POS offering … restaurant systems are secured by partners that focus solely on leveraging the newest technologies and protecting customer and business data from internal and external threats,” the white paper stated.
The cloud has also been a boon for disaster recovery efforts in the industry. Channel Partners noted that restaurant owners should keep a few considerations in mind with their DR plans, and consider a DRaaS. When examining available options, decision-makers should take a look at automation capabilities, operational costs, encryption, authentication and other security measures as well as the provider’s partner network. This year, 85 percent of operators participating in the Hospitality Technology study said DR is a top priority.
“By recommending and implementing cloud-based POS, back office, DR and mobile solutions, MSPs and service providers give restaurateurs the freedom to focus on serving customers,” the white paper noted.