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Is Technology Keeping You Safe, or Putting You at Risk?

Tis the season to be jolly, right?

But jolly is as jolly does, so what are you doing to be in a jolly place, just in case? Are you worried about being (spooky scream and shiver) BREACHED? As restaurant owners and managers, there is a double dare working here. You are personally concerned about credit card and banking fraud, computer and network security, Wi-Fi security, identity theft, and the new and big one, tax refund fraud. Everyone is. Your worries are compounded because you own or manage a business that also needs to be concerned for both the business’ sake and for your customers. Jolly is as jolly does.

If you are unconcerned, get out from underneath that rock! Everyone knows someone who has been personally breached, a business that has been breached and unless you really are under a rock, you hear about big data breaches almost weekly. So, how can you put yourself into a jolly state and, hopefully allow yourself a jolly season?

I have been working closely of late with a group called, Cyber Defense Group, and I am going to pass along some important technological and practical solutions for your personal and your business protection. I will classify them as they are easily identified, but these are just the tip of each iceberg. Do your jolly homework.

Credit Card and Banking Fraud Prevention: It is recommended that you have separate accounts for your debit purchases and for your other banking. Work with your bank. Most banks will send you a text alert every time you or someone looks at your online accounts. Seems like a no brainer. If you were not on it when you get the alert, you have been hacked!

Identity Theft: Monitor your credit reports regularly. That costs almost nothing these days. NEVER, EVER email a credit card number, a social security number or a date of birth. Never is even too often!

Computer and Network Security: Make sure your wireless in your business has a public version that your customers can use, and your own, password protected totally separate network. Train your employees never to check email on any device you have in your business, and beat the crap out of them if they do. Then fire them. Make sure you are forever updating your antivirus is also prudent and important.

Mobile Devices: This is more for your own personal protection, but if you are personally up a tree, jolly you will not be. Be cautious when using an app store. Free may sound good, but do a little research before you download a free app. Almost anyone can put an app up for grabs. Here are two very useful sites to help you better understand and utilize you cell phone and other tablet and mobile devices: www.eset.com and www.trendmicro.com.

Tax Refund Fraud: This is kind of a race. If someone has stolen your identity, and they file first, this may hold up your ability to file and to get any refund for a long time. So … file as early as possible. Investigations can take months or years. Discuss security with your accountant and CPA. Feel good about what precautions they are taking. If they are not taking proper precautions, beat the crap out of them and then fire them. Here is a very useful site for the purposes of prevention of tax refund fraud www.irs.gov/uac/tax-fraud-alerts.

As you all will see from my moniker, I have moved into the next phase of my career in working with restaurant and hospitality. I am excited that I am now part of CohnReznick that is solely focused on the success of its hospitality clients. I am personally looking forward to working with many of you in virtually any aspect of your business where you may have a problem or would like to see improvement. Technology will now be only one of the weapons and please let me know where and when I can help.

About the Author

Henry Pertman is Director, Hospitality Consulting at CohnReznick, located in the firm’s Baltimore, Md. office. 410-783-4900, henry.pertman@cohnreznick.com.

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