Best Bar None Scotland, a national accreditation and award scheme aiming to raise safety standards amongst licensed venues, is warning that cyber-crime is now a real threat to all bars and restaurants if they do not have the correct safety measures in place.

Rapid technological advancements in the licensed trade industry have changed how businesses operate, transforming many areas including payments, ordering, staffing and communication. However, if this technology is not properly protected it could be putting your actual business at risk.

Best Bar None Scotland’s National Coordinator, Robert Hogg, is urging all bars and restaurants to guard against complacency, and ensure they have the correct cyber policies and procedures in place that protect them from the threat of an attack.

He said: “Cyber-crime is now a real threat to all businesses across all sectors. This is particularly true for businesses who are not traditionally associated with digital, that rely on technology on a daily basis but may not have the necessary defences in place to fight off an attack.

“It’s vital that all businesses across the license trade sector 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. It’s also important that employees are made aware of cyber-security policies, know how to spot phishing emails, and are aware of the protocol if they notice anything suspicious.” 

Hogg added: “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 not on the same network as your point of sale system.” 

Bars and restaurants which have any cyber concerns can get in touch with the Scottish Business Resilience Centre which provides a comprehensive range of integrated cyber security services which are designed to help build confidence, understand threats and vulnerabilities and secure your environment.

The Scottish Cyber Awards, 2019, organised by the Scottish Business Resilience Centre, is taking place at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Edinburgh, 20 November 2019.