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  15 Feb 2020

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Cyber Security in the Hospitality Industry

One of the various misconceptions that many people have about cybercriminals is that they want your money. Yes, they do. But what if they want more than money? What if it's data and access?What if they could take on your identity and use it as they wish because they know you? How? Who has all of your information and data? Different companies and organizations, including the hotel you lodge in!

Over the years, one industry which has managed to garner millions of data without stress, or fault is the hospitality industry. Every day, a hundred million people travel the world, staying over in places and, of course, leaving their names and certain other information behind. The hospitality sector receives and manages millions of names, contact numbers, emails, home address, or work address as well as credit card information without second thoughts. So, what if all of these are at risk? That's where cybersecurity in the hospitality industry comes in.

How can a hotel's cybersecurity be compromised?

At various points in time, what each cyber attacker wants exactly differs. However, the primary motive is usually the same- to access as much data as possible from the hotel's network and use it for their benefit. After access to this information, it is usually very easy for attackers to take further steps, such as falsifying identity to attack each guest in different ways. How then can your hotel's cybersecurity be compromised?

  1. Phishing

 Quite usually, this method is the easiest when used with specific strategies. Your attacker could trickily access one of your staff's emails and have them send links to others. In simple terms, the attacker impersonates a staff who requires passwords, clicks on links, or specific information to your database. When this happens, your guests' information becomes public as they can access them for their use. Your attacker gets to know personal details about each guest, which your privacy policy may not even permit you to make public.

  1. POS System

Who's the third party managing your Point of Sale (POS) system? Are they technologically knowledgeable enough to help protect you or hotel business and your guest's information? Cybersecurity in the hospitality business should be handled with utmost care. Therefore, every member, company, organization, or third parties involved should be providing enough security.

  1. Database Access

A question every hotelier must be able to answer concisely is the question of who has access to the entire database. The people who have access too could be a threat when they aren't certified or are people liable to sabotage the hotel business. Guests and other people with no business in the database should be kept out strictly for protection because insider attacks could occur.

  1. Disturbance denial of service attack

Thinking the only place an attack could take place is the front desk where information is handled? Think again. Cybercriminals are always on the lookout for loopholes, which they can take advantage of to attack your hotel. Your cameras, electronic doors, or even a network of phones could be used to plot the attack.

  1. Malware

The problem of technological instability and unavailability of reliability also plays a huge role in the protection of cybersecurity in the hospitality business. The use of low-budget, not up to date security systems could get the hotel in a lot more than they bargain for in terms of attack when affected by ransomware.

Physical Security Vulnerabilities

Inadequate physical security measures can lead to unauthorized access to servers, computers, or other devices, putting sensitive information at risk.

For example, if your physical location is not properly guarded, cybercriminals can always come there and get the information directly from the employers or employees, either at gun point or by any other fraudulent means. 

What should be done to avoid cyber-attacks?

It is in the best interest of every hotelier that guests' data are kept encrypted and secured. This is obviously to avoid lawsuits that may be filed by guests in the future and the protection of a hotel's image. You have a hotel and wants to prevent a cyber attack at all cost? Then here are some tips for you:

  1. Educate your staff

Even to the front desk receptionist, educate your staff on cybersecurity and how they can protect themselves as well as the hotel from attack. Any and everyone's identity can be used to access the hotel's database, so they have to be sure to be careful. In the case of any suspicions, they should be able to report as soon as possible. 

  1. Get useful gadgets and security systems

Not only should you fill your IT teams with experts, provide them with the best technological gadgets as well. This way, they are able to build firewalls around your hotel's database system. Having experts on the team also helps to keep things under control in the case of an attack. Do not spare costs for protection against cyber-attack.

  1. Avoid Insider threats

At all times, ensure that insider threats are avoided. Employees have a mind of their own and could hold a grudge or expose your hotel to attack. Therefore, limit the number of people who have access to the database to only the necessary people. 

  1. Respond to suspicious alerts early

Whether it's from a guest or a staff, respond to reports of suspicious activities. Have your IT team on it to find out what is going on. You can never be too careful when it is cybersecurity in the hospitality industry.

  1. Protect your networks and connections 

As long as two things are connected at a point, then there's a high probability that it can be intercepted. As a hotelier who wants to stay in business and keep his guests safe from attack, you are expected to see to it that connections are protectedand that other parties cannot access them at any time. 

Regular Software Updates

Keep all operating systems, antivirus programs, and software up to date to patch vulnerabilities and protect against known exploits.

Secure Wi-Fi Networks

Implement strong encryption for Wi-Fi networks, and educate guests and staff about the importance of connecting only to official, secure networks.

Physical Security Measures

Ensure proper physical security for servers and devices to prevent unauthorized access. Use access controls and surveillance to monitor sensitive areas.

POS System Security

Regularly update and secure point-of-sale systems to protect financial transactions and customer data. Employ security measures like encryption and regular audits.

Data Backups

Regularly back up critical data to prevent loss in case of a ransomware attack. Store backups securely and test the restoration process.

Firewalls and Intrusion Detection Systems

Employ firewalls and intrusion detection systems to monitor and block unauthorized access to the network, adding an extra layer of defense.

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Require multi-factor authentication for accessing sensitive systems. This adds an extra layer of security beyond passwords.

Incident Response Plan

Develop and regularly update an incident response plan. This plan should outline steps to take in the event of a cyber-attack to minimize damage and recovery time.

Regular Security Audits

Conduct regular security audits and assessments to identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses in the cybersecurity infrastructure.

Collaboration with Cybersecurity Experts

Seek guidance from cybersecurity professionals and stay informed about the latest threats and best practices for protection.

What should be done after cyber attacks?

Although it is quite unfortunate that numerous hotels have fallen victims of cyber attacks from various persons, it is, however never too late for security. Your hotel has been attacked or is under attack? Take the steps below: 

  1. Revoke access

When you noticed that you'd been hacked, take necessary measures to protect whatever you have left. Use your admin authority to revoke all access that the attackers may still have. Change passwords, pin and security questions

  1. Talk to professionals 

Also, you could go a step further to increase your security, if there's a way you can. Talk to IT professionals or other hoteliers to find out the security system they make use of for their hotel's protection.

  1. Report to the necessary authorities

To vindicate yourself, your staff, and your hotel, you may have to report to the security authorities. This way, further actions taken by your attackers will not be blamed on you.

  1. Warn your guests

Inform your guests and the public about the attack. Of course, you may have to do this based on the discretion of your legal adviser. He will know to what extent the public has to know about the attack. However, for your guests' safety, let them know things have been compromised so that they can protect themselves.

5. Notify Relevant Parties

Inform internal stakeholders, such as IT personnel and management, about the cyber attack. If customer data is involved, consider legal obligations for disclosure.

6. Activate Incident Response Plan: 

Follow the established incident response plan to guide your team through the steps required to contain, eradicate, and recover from the cyber attack.

7. Preserve Evidence

Preserve evidence of the cyber attack for potential legal and forensic purposes. Document all actions taken and maintain a timeline of the incident.

8. Work with Cybersecurity Experts

Engage cybersecurity professionals to assess the extent of the breach, identify vulnerabilities, and assist in securing systems against future attacks.

9. Restore Systems from Backups

If possible, restore affected systems from secure backups. Ensure that the restored data is free from malware or other compromises.

10. Implement Security Improvements

Use the lessons learned from the cyber attack to enhance your cybersecurity posture. Implement additional security measures, update policies, and conduct further training for staff.

11. Review and Learn

Conduct a thorough post-incident review to understand how the attack occurred, identify areas for improvement, and refine your cybersecurity strategy.

12. Comply with Regulatory Requirements

If the cyber attack involves sensitive data, comply with regulatory requirements for data breach notifications and reporting.

13. Monitor for Residual Threats

Continuously monitor the network and systems for any residual threats or signs of further unauthorized activity.

14. Reevaluate Security Policies

Review and update security policies and procedures based on the insights gained from the cyber attack. Consider additional measures to enhance overall security.

15. Engage with Insurance Providers

If your organization has cyber insurance, notify the insurance provider and follow their procedures for filing a claim and accessing support.

Key Takeaways 

As a business owner in the hotel industry, you own a lot of what attackers most likely want - data. As a result, you have to always be at the top of your game when it comes to cybersecurity.

At Booking Ninjas, make data security and privacy a priority. We have put a substantial amount of expert effort into making it extremely difficult for your data to be compromised. You are welcome to try out Booking Ninjas. Click here to get started.

Improve Your Property's Management, Operation & Revenue With Booking Ninjas Property Management System

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