Retailers And Restaurants Face Growing Data Security Threats

May 10, 2017

The number of data breaches being suffered nationwide continues to grow at an ever-increasing pace, and puts both businesses and consumers at significant risk.

The number of data breaches suffered nationwide continues to grow at an ever-increasing pace, putting both businesses and consumers at significant risk. The cost of dealing with just about any sort of data breach can be significant, and smaller restaurants and retailers in particular may face major challenges in dealing with remediation. As a consequence, it’s vital to continually assess risk factors and work toward a safer payments ecosystem.

With all this in mind, merchants of all sizes should ensure they’re working to follow the industry-recommended best practices for protecting sensitive customer data including personally identifying information and payment details.

Taking Basic Steps
The problem with suffering data breaches for just about any company goes beyond just the cost of remediation, because it can also result in a loss of trust among patrons. Consequently, taking simple steps like being PCI compliant, encrypting payment data, and so on can effectively reduce risk at a basic level, according to Steve Fredette, president and co-found of the security firm Toast, writing for Chain Store Age. But even beyond that, working to use the latest cloud-based point-of-sale devices to store data in locations that aren’t physically in a store or restaurant, and keeping all payment software updated on an ongoing basis is crucial.

Small businesses may need to do more to protect from data breach risk.Small businesses may need to do more to protect from data breach risk.

Recent Examples
However, it’s worth noting that while smaller merchants can certainly beef up their security efforts, even big companies with much larger budgets for data protection don’t always find themselves fully insulated from risk. For instance, a couple from Connecticut recently filed a lawsuit – currently seeking class status – against Arby’s alleging that the company was hit with a malware program that affected the payment systems in about 1,000 of its stores across the country, according to The Associated Press.

The suit claims credit and debit account details for at least at least 355,000 cards were compromised. Currently, Arby’s says the claims are without merit and plans to fight the suit in court.

Meanwhile, a major breach suffered by the Home Depot in 2014 is still causing some issues for the company, according to a report from Fortune. That incident – which exposed email and payment card data for 50 million people when hackers cracked the retail giant’s self-checkout systems – recently led to a new settlement with dozens of financial institutions in which the company agreed to pay $25 million in damages. That came in addition to other compensation of at least $134.5 million paid to companies like Visa and MasterCard, and $19.5 million paid to consumers affected by the breach.

While no small merchant is likely to face those kinds of costs, the fact remains that they need to be aware of the problems data breaches pose, and work to get out in front of potential risk factors that might affect their companies. Carefully examining potential weaknesses and moving to address them as quickly as possible with the latest technological solutions could go a long way toward insulating them from these issues even as they stay on-budget.

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