Cyber security part 1: Hospitality businesses at risk of cyber crime during lockdown

Robyn Black

Robyn Black

27 April 2020

Cyber crime is rising across the board but pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels are at particular risk, warn experts

‘Cyber criminals are scavengers essentially, preying on the weak and vulnerable, so the more a sector is on its knees the more vulnerable it is,’ said Raef Meeuwisse of Cyber Simplicity. ‘And the situation created by the covid-19 pandemic means hospitality is particularly vulnerable right now.’

He warns business-owners not to fall into the trap of thinking they are safer than usual from scams, phishing and other online crimes because their businesses are closed.

The situation created by the covid-19 pandemic means hospitality is particularly vulnerable right now

Raef Meeuwisse

‘I think the danger is that people in this industry in particular might be thinking things are so bad that cyber security is the last thing they need to be thinking about, but actually it should be a priority.

‘People may also be thinking that with fewer – or no – financial transactions happening that they are safer than usual but, with the furlough scheme and people looking to sell venues, large amounts of money are still moving around, which make it attractive to criminals.’

Javvad Malik, security awareness advocate at security awareness firm, KnowBe4, agrees, adding that the very nature of hospitality makes operators in this sector wide open to attacks.

‘The nature of hospitality is to be helpful,’ he explains. ‘This can make people more likely to fall for a phishing scam where someone appears to be asking for help.’

The move of many venues to online ordering and home delivery is also a potential danger, points out Malik.

The move of many venues to online ordering and home delivery is also a potential danger

‘It’s always a risk with new set-ups, particularly if there is payment involved and if you are trying to do so quickly. My advice would be to go with a reputable supplier at a time like this, rather than a new operation.’

Other online security matters hospitality business-owners should be thinking about include backing up data, ensuring computers and devices are still updating to the latest security software and ensuring themselves and staff are aware of common signs that indicate a scam.

We’ll be writing more on this in the coming days, as part of a series on cyber-security for hospitality on imbibe.com.

In part two later this week, we’ll be looking at how you can protect your business from cybercrime while your business is shutdown and will be following that with a round-up of free resources and training you can use, as well as some advice to help those of you setting up an online retail arm in a hurry.

If you’ve been targeted or have some experience of protecting your business against cyber crimes, please do get in touch with robyn@imbibe.com.

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