The cyber security threats to leisure businesses

For those in the hospitality industry, the threats to data security can be significant.

G Clifton 003 300dpiBy Gary Clifton, head of corporate clients, NFU Mutual Preston.

The storage of debit/credit card information is widespread among hotels and restaurants and these are accessed several times when guests use the restaurant, bar or leisure facilities. Another common feature in the industry is guest wi-fi which can offer hackers access to data by breaching unsecured networks.

A government survey in 2015 found 90 per cent of large businesses suffer some form of data breach with 75 per cent of smaller companies similarly affected.

This is an increasing annual trend in both cases, with average costs resulting from a breach also increasing.

The threat of losing sensitive customer data and the reputational damage to businesses can be far-reaching. Business owners and managers have an obligation to ensure the personal information they hold about guests is secure.

Managers should provide staff with clear procedures for protecting customer data with policies reviewed on a regular basis to ensure they are current.

Cyber security should be tested as part of regular audits of IT hardware and software. Business continuity plans can address potential problems when data networks are attacked and taken down.

Leisure businesses should speak to their insurance providers to check their policy covers legal fees and advice and the costs of a communication specialist in case it is necessary to deal with the fallout of a data breach. It should also cover any fines or compensation from legal claims after customer data is hacked.

As an experienced commercial insurer, NFU Mutual works personally with businesses to gain first-hand insight into their operations and the challenges that they face. We are increasingly working with our commercial customers to explore their exposure to cyber risk and, when appropriate, provide them with tailored solutions to protect their assets.