Venues at risk of cyber attack

Licensed trade businesses urged to protect wi-fi networks

Be vigilant: losses from cyber attacks are said to cost businesses £176,000 on average

OPERATORS are being warned to take cyber crime seriously after new data showed the on-trade’s potential vulnerability to cyber attacks.

An analysis of recent government findings by tech firm Specops Software found that businesses in the food and hospitality sector are spending the least on cyber security: £1080 annually compared to almost £17,000 by firms in health, social care or social work.

In addition, new statistics from insurance provider Hiscox revealed that a majority of UK businesses have already faced a cyber attack this year, with losses from breaches said to cost firms £176,000 on average.

Robert Hogg, national co-ordinator of trade accreditation scheme Best Bar None Scotland, has urged all operators to ensure they have the correct policies and procedures in place to protect them from potential attacks, including using different passwords for accounts and separating wi-fi networks for customers, staff and their venue’s point of sale system.

He said: “It’s vital that all businesses across the licensed trade are checking data and detecting attacks, and making efforts to improve IT capabilities.

“There are various cyber security policies that all licensed venues need to follow, including the obvious ones such as using different passwords for accounts, don’t open any suspicious email attachments and don’t send unsecure, sensitive data electronically.

“One of the biggest risks to the licensed trade is unsecure wi-fi networks. In no other sector do more people who are not employed by the venue expect to have access to the internet, and while business owners may believe they’re providing a valuable service to their customers, often the security on these networks is non-existent leading to huge privacy issues.

“Open wi-fi networks are often targeted by hackers, who can then steal all the information passing back and forth. To ensure this does not happen always protect your network with a password, and create guest networks for customers and employees so they are on the same network as your point of sale system.”