Cyber attacks that result in data breaches are not that rare in almost every industry. However, some types of businesses are more prone to cyber attacks than others. For instance, the hospitality industry is one of the few industries that are very often targeted by cyber criminals. It is quite obvious why the hospitality industry is under the gun, as hotels’ databases contain tons of sensitive data. Just to name a few types of information that hackers target: copies of full legal names of guests, credit card information, etc. You would be surprised, but due to the Covid-19 crisis, the cases of cyber attacks in the hospitality industry have become even more common.
In this article we will talk about substantial risk awaiting travel businesses these days and underline the importance of utilizing technologies that help reduce this risk. We will also cover prevention tips; what hotel owners can do in order to strengthen their cyber security protocols and protect the data of their customers.
So here is the major question: Why is the hospitality industry so vulnerable to cyber attacks? Coronavirus pandemic has had an enormous impact on the well-being of the hospitality industry, and now hospitality companies must deal with the growing threat of cyber attacks. These attacks usually cost hotels their reputation and result in massive fines issued by regulators. In order to speed up the check-in process, some hotels have introduced biometrics and other technological innovations. These practices help businesses facilitate convenience and sustain a safer environment, as well as avoid such hussles as lost room keys.
Many hotels have smart TVs in rooms that allow guests to log in their existing streaming services accounts and these are as common as public wi-fi. It goes without saying that the more gateways visitors access the higher the probability of a cyber attack at the facility.
Another reason for hotels’ vulnerability to hacking is that guests use the web to transfer their payments long time ahead of the actual trip. Large groups of people who plan conferences send massive amounts of money, and cybercriminals might take advantage of that. They implement phishing attacks and sometimes manage to get bogus money transfers approved, while getting access to systems using bad links.
Also, many hotels have loyalty programs that include personal information of guests, such as name, address, phone number and credit card detail and more. Many hotels deal with continuous integration and delivery pipelines that assist automation of these loyalty programs.
Moreover, hotels are spread out around the globe and in some countries cyberattacks are more often that in others. This fact makes hotels in particular places a prime target for cyber criminal activity.
There are major threats that await the hospitality industry and we are going to cover them in detail, so hoteliers will have a better chance of avoiding them. These threats are constantly changing and evolving, as hackers discover new vulnerabilities and loopholes for bypassing security responses.
Phishing attacks: Cybercriminals design and send out deceptive emails to hotel employees and customers that encourage them to click and follow a link embedded in the message. The forms of these emails vary, and they can appear as a fake confirmation email, an invoice or other. The emails look official and the addresses look legitimate. This type of cybercrime is called spear phishing, as people with malicious intent perform all necessary research of what kind of emails a hotel or other organization sends out.
Ransomware: Let’s look at the numbers: every minute a business gets attacked almost twice. It is unbelievable, but more than a half of the attacked businesses pay the ransom to get their files unlocked. As hotels hold a vast amount of sensitive information, they become a primary target for ransomware attacks.
DDoS attacks: Hackers become inventive when it comes to DDoS attacks – they also often succeed in gaining large financial rewards. Hotels depend on a wide array of networks to schedule reservations, carry out payments and run security systems. The moment a cybercriminal gets control over one of these networks, they have the ability to shut essential operations of the hotel until they receive monetary compensation. Hotels pay large sums of money even if they are shut off their networks for a short period of time.
It all seems frightening at first, but there are ways to protect your business from potential loss of funds and reputation. One of the ways is to encourage your guests to login to the Wi-Fi network using their existing Google or Facebook accounts. In addition to Wi-Fi, it is also possible to process payments using these systems. If you adhere to this piece of advice, you will drastically reduce the possibility for a cyber attack, as clients don’t have to create additional accounts and enter their credit card information anew every time, therefore keeping the transactions more secure.
It is also important to use top quality servers when supplying your guests with internet access. Some web hosts depend on low quality servers, therefore they jeopardize the safety of users’ data. As the bare minimum, servers should offer firewall protection, SSL protocols, DDoS attack prevention and more.
At the end of the day, companies should resort to assistance of professional cyber security experts, such as Secure Stay professionals. A strategy must be implemented that will subsequently detect potential threats and make sure to avoid attacks altogether. Keep in mind that those companies that neglect using the help of cyber security companies usually pay a higher price when it comes to losing a good name and reputation.