January 28 is National Data Privacy Day, which means now is an ideal time to understand how to protect your business and devices from obvious hacker targets to less-common methods of information stealing. For example, you probably consider the risks of entering your credit card information when shopping online or providing your date of birth when your bank inquires about unauthorized activity. But do you think about the risks associated with putting your information into a mobile phone app while you’re at a restaurant?

The use of “waitlist apps” for restaurants and eateries is a trend that has taken off recently. These apps allow diners to put their name on a digital waitlist and view their place in line. That way, if they leave the restaurant to kill some time, they know when to return to be seated. Sounds great, right?

As much as you may appreciate not waiting in a crowded restaurant and not being startled due to your buzzer finally going off, when you enter your information into these apps, you may be giving away more than your name and phone number. Multiple restaurants list in their privacy policy that they can share data like seating preference with third parties for analytics and marketing purposes. However, most people don’t read the privacy policy before signing up, which means they may not even know what they’re signing away. Even when a restaurant has no wait, you still may be asked to provide information so the restaurant can collect data.

Seating preference doesn’t sound too threatening, but the problem is, hackers will eventually catch on to this trend and could begin to use these apps to cause harmful data breaches. Restaurants who do not protect their systems could be vulnerable to this type of cyber attack, placing customers’ data in jeopardy. Not only will the customer feel violated, but the restaurant may have a hard time rebuilding its reputation and trust with loyal customers following a data breach.

Restaurants should evaluate their risk exposure if they use waitlist and other apps intended to enhance the customer experience. This National Data Privacy Day, keep CMIT Solutions in mind when you consider how to protect your small or mid-market business. CMIT Solutions provides services such as risk exposure assessment, data protection, and mobile device management, which can help your business gain a strategic upper hand against security threats.