Cyberattacks are becoming more and more sophisticated. Ready to protect your hotel business?

October being the Cybersecurity Awareness Month of 2021, Mukta Saxena, VP – Engineering Operations at Hotelogix, lists the causes and impact of cyberattacks

Cyber ​​threats seem to be common ignorance in the age of digitalization, and the hospitality industry is not very prepared to deal with such sophisticated attacks. October being Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2021, let’s take a look at how data breaches have affected some of the world’s leading hotel brands in the recent past. Also, in line with this year’s theme, “Do your part. #BeCyberSmart”, now is a great time to review some critical security aspects to help you stay alert and avoid such attacks.

Listing some of the theft incidents involving hotels. Please note that these incidents were reported in 2020.

* The UK’s data privacy watchdog had fined the Marriott Hotels chain £18.4 million over a data breach that allegedly affected up to 339 million customers.

* In another incident, hackers managed to breach the Ritz hotel’s restaurant reservation system. Then they contacted hotel guests and asked for credit card numbers, saying their initial payments for the reservations had been declined.

* MGM Resorts International has admitted to experiencing a data breach in 2019 involving 10.6 million of its guests.

Causes of data breaches in hotels

For hackers, hotels are easy targets because they store large volumes of customer and employee data. They continuously scan hotel databases and other IT infrastructure to locate weak points. Here are some of the flaws that help these cyber crooks to breach your system and steal your critical data.

* Application vulnerabilities: It can be any application that you implement in your hotel, from a hotel management system, from a point of sale to a reservation system. Outdated applications without security standards or new systems not armed with adequate security measures allow hackers to crawl right into your database. Typically triggered by design/coding flaws/flaws, application vulnerabilities fail to detect the data buffer size, leading to memory stack overflow. It forces your computer to run and execute the codes implanted by cyber criminals.

* Malware: It is malware downloaded by you unwittingly and unsuspectingly. Once downloaded to your system, they allow hackers to exploit all other connected systems.

* Management of unsupervised access: This is another area of ​​vulnerability that can lead to online data theft. When left unmonitored, users in your organization can make mistakes or even intentionally take malicious actions leading to larger-scale data breaches.

Impact of data breaches

The alarming increase in cyber fraud does not correlate with the preparedness of the hospitality industry to prevent such incidents. Many of them are sitting ducks waiting for a breach to occur. Some additional alarming stats you should know –

* About 21% of senior hotel executives say they have been victims of data theft.

* While 27% of them only offer relevant training once a year, 28% of them never do.

Now let’s take a look at the damage this can inflict on your hotel:

* Heavy regulatory fines can lead to substantial financial losses

* Operational interruption, again leading to financial losses

* Damaged brand reputation

* Reduced customer confidence

* Do your part! #BeCyberSmart

As a hotel owner, you must do everything possible to secure your sensitive data and that of your customers. As a hotel chain or independently owned, your primary goal should be to put in place all possible controls to keep cybercriminals away.

Adopt a smart hotel PMS like Hotelogix – one of the world’s top hotel technology leaders providing cloud-based hotel solutions.

Hotelogix cloud Hotel PMS is PCI compliant hotel software that uses industry standard TLS/SSL encryption to transmit data. Plus, it saves your data on firewall-protected servers with automatic backups and recovery. The app comes with a strong password policy with multi-factor authentication. Some of the major upcoming features are Antimalware, Application Security and Control, File Integrity, and Web Application Firewall. Encrypting/masking personal information ensures that your guest’s privacy is intact.

* Invest in anti-malware/virus software, a digital password manager.

* Make sure all your systems/applications are up to date with the latest security patches.

* Regulate and limit access rights to employee systems.

* Carefully store and dispose of confidential and sensitive data.

* Ensure your third party integration partners/organizations have all required compliances, determine how secure their platforms/applications are.

* Make sure your connected multifunction printers have all the security aspects.

* Have secure and robust Wi-Fi settings.

* Inform and train your employees.

* Have all security measures assessed by cybersecurity experts.

Summary

Threats that target hotels are continually emerging as hackers develop a way to circumvent system security.

In order to protect your property and customer information, it is important that you understand the risks and choose software that will help protect your most sensitive data.

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