How franchisors can protect their systems against hacking, data breaches and other cybersecurity threats
Cybersecurity is a big concern in franchising. The very nature of franchising makes it an attractive target for cybercriminals. With multiple locations, franchisors need to invest in excellent data protection systems and cybersecurity to ensure franchise agreements are adhered to. Cybersecurity protection is also essential to decrease potential liability for accessing the franchise system.
Franchisors form an interconnected system with all their locations, constantly sharing sensitive information about employees and clients. If one franchisee is exposed, the entire system could be exposed.
Here, we look at five potential cybersecurity threats in franchising and strategies for preventing them.
1. Database hacking
Even the most successful companies can fall victim to database hacking. This happens when cybercriminals infiltrate a company’s records and access sensitive information for blackmail or social exploitation purposes.
Hackers can gain data on customer names, addresses, credit card numbers, social security numbers, and passwords. Based on the latest identity fraud statistics, there has been a massive rise in data breach incidents within franchised networks in recent years.
The most common way to hack a database is called a network attack, where hackers find and exploit weak spots in the company’s security system.
The leaking of company data can be detrimental if strict policies are not implemented. To avoid this, franchisors should consult legal technology and cybersecurity professionals to ensure their database is free from potential threats.
2. Malware dangers
Malicious software, known chiefly as malware, is a hacking technique used to slow down or completely stop the functioning of software networks and devices.
Agents such as trojans, spyware, viruses, ransomware, adware, and worms are used to corrupt computer systems. Cybercriminals usually send an email to employees of a franchised business with a harmful link or file that will destroy the entire network if you download it.
Once malware enters your company’s system, hackers have full reign and can access personnel data, banking information, passwords, and more.
Over the last year, hackers have developed new malware techniques that have seen 35% of attacks using a new method to infiltrate business’ databases.
This will only worsen as time goes on. Therefore, franchisors must keep their cybersecurity systems up to date by constantly checking identity fraud statistics sites.
Viruses are a type of malware attack that corrupts the networks and computers of employees. The virus is a code capable of copying itself and wreaking havoc on databases.
Viruses have the power to destroy and delete valuable files from company databases. This technique is usually carried out through a malicious link sent via a phishing email (see below).
Virus attacks can be targeted at individual employees or whole organizations. Franchisors, franchisees, and their employees need to be aware of threats when receiving emails from unknown sources. Better yet, corporate inboxes should detect threats and filter malicious emails out.
4. Phishing scams
Phishing is another type of technique that involves the downloading of harmful links from emails. However, in this technique, the hacker has assumed the identity of a legitimate person or company.
These cybercriminals send promotional emails or newsletters filled with clickbait links that catch your eye. When an unsuspecting employee clicks the link, harmful data will be downloaded onto your company’s system.
Another type of email phishing is whale phishing, aimed at company executives. On the other hand, spear-phishing involves sending emails to specific company members to steal data.
5. Insecure passwords
Passwords are most commonly exposed when someone accidentally inputs their login credentials on a fraudulent website. Accounts with common username and password combinations are often more vulnerable to assaults.
Reusing passwords across platforms makes your system even more vulnerable to hackers, putting numerous accounts in danger.
Franchisors should introduce a system to create an account on company computers. Several web sources suggest either solid and random passwords or creating a strong password based on a coding system.
Available solutions for cybersecurity threats in franchising
Here are three ways to bolster a franchise system’s defense against cyber threats:
Assemble a team of experts
Whether it’s an in-house or external cybersecurity team, having a team dedicated to managing data protection is vital for a company’s success. The team needs to be available 24/7 and be up to date with the latest cyber attacks.
Introduce data breach procedure
This involves a versatile document that employees can follow when new attacks occur. It should include a guide on protecting devices, creating strong passwords, and identifying potential future attacks.
Educate employees on cyberattacks
Employees need to be given clear instructions on handling potential attacks and what to look for when creating company computers’ accounts.
If you’re a franchisor, the key to successful protection is to create a cybersecurity framework that considers each franchisee. This way, you build a solid network to minimize the risk of cyberattacks. While data protection and cybersecurity for your company may seem overwhelming at first, there are multiple ways to streamline the process by hiring the right team of professionals. This investment in security can save your company millions of dollars plus a few headaches down the line.