Cyber threats for hotels are an escalating problem that pushes hoteliers to improve their cyber resiliency.
Hotels are a part of digital transformation, which becomes inevitable in each industry. And it means that hotels are getting one more responsibility for their guests: data protection.
Since guests share their data with hotels, a robust cyber security system is a must in the hospitality industry. When a hotel’s system is hacked, the hackers can reach all customers’
- credit card information,
- e-mail addresses,
- passport or ID details, and
- the hotel's financial and organizational information.
Unfortunately, cyber thieves who realize hotels with security breaches are increasing day by day. In this case, hoteliers need to find a more reliable system in cybersecurity, which is meticulously concerned.
The damage caused by this attack may severely tarnish a hotel’s image. After high-class and prestigious hotels such as Hyatt and Marriott were hacked, other hoteliers also declared a red alert regarding cybersecurity and had to make provisions for their safety.
More than 65% of hotels are routinely leaked booking reference codes through third-party sites. These problems affect hotels’ brand trust. The relationship between hotels and customers relies on confidence, but these leaks compromise this relationship and may destroy brand integrity.
The Attacks Hotels May Experience
While a vast number of cyberattacks target personal and business information, the hotels are affected by the attacks directly. Below are the most common and dangerous methods that can be highly backbreaking for your hotel.
A type of malware is ransomware which hotels are frequently exposed to. This blocks the system until the ransom is paid, so it is hard to deal with. The attackers can take the information of the hotel’s guests and particular system applications hostage. The main aim is to get financial payment generally.
Hotels generally do not use secure systems like modern payment terminals, which are much more challenging to leak. Instead, the improved systems capture and encrypt payment data to secure it.
Moreover, ransomware attacks can target one business or be worldwide and simultaneously, like the one called ‘WannaCry’ in 2017. So it is a challenging problem that hotels should be prepared for.
You are, as a hotelier, at the center of this high threat. Many hotels were forced to pay ransoms to regain authority over their system.
Phishing is an email that seems like come from a trusted source even if the situation is the contrary. Attackers intend to convince people to share personal information like passwords or financial and credit card information.
So, consumers and hoteliers should be sure that the websites they use are legitimate.
Also, phishing is used for hoteliers to, for instance, send their fees to fake websites and, in this way, have their Money.
In the last few years, these attacks have gotten more complex. These phishing emails can be shown as coming from your hotel colleagues. Or they may come to your hotel employees by seeming like you send them. The aim is to reach your recipients to authorize transactions.
DDoS attacks on your hotel network
Hotels are incredibly fragile against DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks. These attacks can shut down the entire hotel chain’s website by being overwhelmed with traffic sources.
DDoS targets hotels’ wide array of systems. All the devices of this system can be used to send pulses to disable them. For instance, security cameras or sprinkler systems can be used by hijacking to crash down your hotel’s system.
However, it is also a hack of choice for those looking to target the wide array of systems hotels use. Every day regular items such as sprinkler systems to security cameras are vulnerable to hijack. After which, entire computer systems can be made to come crashing down.
Theft of personal information over public Wi-Fi
Cybersecurity of the hotels should defend their customers against theft of their personal information from public Wi-Fi-connected devices at their hotels. These attacks emulate a legitimate Wi-Fi access portal like your hotel’s. By using your public Wi-Fi, attackers can reach your guests’ any information like their bank accounts, credit card numbers, or identities.
They can trick users of public Wi-Fi by looking like a credible website but being a fake version of it. Through this website, they can force users to download malware that gives hackers access to all their devices.
So, protecting your customers' information should be your hotel’s priority. Both data and network security should be sustained hand by hand through your cybersecurity.
Point-of-sale and payment card attacks
Point-of-sale or payment card attacks are hazardous for the hotel industry. They do not attack the hotel itself but the vendor as a third-party crime. So, the weakness of the hotel’s system is used and revealed by these attacks.
Hackers target your point-of-sale and payment terminals through these attacks to get your customers’ credit and payment card information.
This cybersecurity flaw may result in losing customers and sinking your brand’s integrity. Also, there can be financial implications for your business. Which, of course, means bad press for a hotel. Furthermore, there could be financial implications for the property.
DarkHotel hacking is similar to the theft of personal information over public Wi-Fi, but this one targets only one specific group: your business guests.
The attackers use your hotel’s Wi-Fi to access the sensitive information of your business class customers (generally high-level business people).
Hackers use fake digital certificates to show a website is safe. However, with a software download from that website, hackers can reach your guests’ all information. This is very risky for your hotel regarding legal issues and your brand’s reliability.
It is the most common cyberattack against all internet users, individuals, and organizations. Malicious software can access, destroy or divert your devices while people are not aware of anything.
Attackers can use malware to spy on users’ activities, infect their computers or networks with viruses, to make changes on devices like deleting files or installing more malware. Malware can settle into a device so quickly. It is enough to open an email attachment, download updates, click on pop-ups, or anyway a user cannot realize. So, you have to be sure of your security on all devices that your hotel and your employees use. Any of them can be a target of malware at any time.
The Cybersecurity Solutions
Even the problems and threats that we mentioned above, there are some measures that hoteliers can take to both protect themselves and their customers. Here are essential protection solutions:
Hotel staff must be trained to be aware of cybersecurity and its significance.
Your hotel should arrange regular training sessions, and all the staff should join these sessions. In there, your employee must be enlightened about what cybersecurity is and how it can sustain. In addition, they must be provided with all the information and skills to guarantee customers the highest level of security.
Your staff should be aware of suspicious emails or links because malware may be placed. They should also be enlightened about not sending sensitive information of customers and the hotel through unsecured emails or other communications.
Moreover, you can test their competence in cybersecurity to fulfill if there is a need.
Apart from training your staff, there is also a need to have strict regulations about cybersecurity. Every member in your hotel should be clear about how important to have security, and they should understand the seriousness of these regulations.
Data and software security is the core of your hotel. Building and sustaining the trust relationship between your hotel and guests depends on security.
The systems in a hotel are generally interconnected, so when there is a fragile area in one system, it affects all systems, and so is your hotel’s functioning and security.
The main idea is that you should have systems that are updated regularly. You should not underestimate the substantiality of updates because this can result in vulnerability to cyber attacks.
Your hotel should be sure that you have trustful and functional anti-virus and anti-malware programs on your networks and devices to keep breaches away. Also, your software should be able to detect behaviors to determine more complex attack possibilities.
You can find the programs that will meet your hotel’s needs against cybersecurity threats by testing and experiencing the pros and cons of a tool. You should search until you find your perfect program.
The penetration test is a simulated attack on your system. But, of course, it is authorized and legal to enable you to realize the gaps and flaws in your hotel’s system. This test helps you to improve your cybersecurity system.
Turning these tests into a routine is essential for your hotel because while technological integrations enhance, the complexity and sophistication of the cyberattacks also increase. Furthermore, you can be a step ahead of the attackers by revealing your loopholes, if there are any, and taking measures according to the situation.
Compliance with ‘PCI DSS’
The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) has brought a set of requirements for security. Your hotel should be compliant with these regulations. Sending credit-card information securely is the key to these regulations to prevent paying financial penalties and losing data and trust.
Encryption of card information in the transactions is also crucial. Therefore, to keep the information safe, you should be sure that you are using powerful data encryption methods. PCI DSS regulations enable you to provide safety for your customers and your hotel.
As a Summary
In an age in which every new day brings a technological change and improvement, cybersecurity is accessible for all sectors to maintain their brand’s trust. This is essential, especially for the hotel industry, where reliability and security are necessary.
Against all of the cyberattacks, as a hotelier, there are certain precautions you can take.
- Be sure that all your staff is well-trained
- Don’t hesitate to apply strict regulations
- Follow the regular updates of your programs
- Use cybersecurity programs efficiently
- Perform penetration tests systematically and periodically
- Be compliant with the regulations of ‘PCI DSS’
Contact us to learn more. We are happy to share our experience and knowledge of the hotel industry.
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