In some ways, the hospitality business is uniquely stable. After all, people are always going to need a place to stay for the night.
Hospitality has always been about making sure guests are comfortable and safe wherever they stay. Nowadays, that includes their personal information and mobile devices. Although the need for hospitality isn’t going anywhere, business leaders in the industry should nevertheless adapt to a changing landscape to ensure that their guests have the best experience possible.
1. Know the Potential Threats
Keeping guests and their property safe is important, but that’s only one part of a changing security landscape. These days, cybercrime represents a major threat to hotel customers. In 2018, a huge data breach targeting Marriott exposed the personal information of 500 million guests.
Hotel News Now reports that data security attacks are a major ongoing concern within the industry, with over a dozen major data breaches reported. These attacks represent one of the most pressing challenges within the hospitality industry.
2. Make a Security Plan
Whether you run a large hotel chain or a single bed & breakfast, you should have a plan in place for protecting your data. Your security plan should be a written policy detailing protocols, security standards, and defense measures. Make sure to share it with every employee.
Be sure to perform tests periodically and update the plan to respond to emerging threats, and make sure each person knows what their role should be in the event of a hack or data breach.
3. Secure Your Network
Broadly speaking, network security refers to any activity that preserves the integrity of your network and data. There are several ways to secure your network, including using firewalls, controlling network access, installing antivirus software, practicing mobile device security, and using a VPN (virtual private network) to encrypt data you transmit online.
With small to medium-sized businesses increasingly becoming the targets of cyberattacks, security measures like these can keep you and your guests from being exposed.
4. Use Network Monitoring
Maintaining awareness of network usage is an important aspect of cybersecurity. Fortunately, this service is available through most managed service providers (MSPs).
Tracking network traffic over time will give you some insight into how much usage is normal, helping you to quickly spot threats like DDoS attacks before they impact your business, as well as letting you know which parts of the network need to be optimized or upgraded for better performance.
5. Educate Employees
Sometimes the biggest vulnerabilities are within your organization. That’s why it pays to ensure that all your employees are knowledgeable about how to spot phishing and malware attacks. These kinds of cyberattacks usually target employee emails to trick users into giving out their login credentials, and once hackers have an employee login, they can access guest payment information and other private data.Teaching your front desk employees and others who process sensitive data to recognize red flags in their inboxes can prevent cybercrime and protect your business.
6. Create a Disaster Recovery Plan
As cybersecurity expert Rob Lee recently told Cisco, “Prevention will fail eventually.”
Unfortunately, in spite of security measures, data breaches do still happen. The next step is to minimize damage. Creating a business continuity and disaster recovery plan will allow you to maintain operations even after a catastrophic data loss or system failure.
With help from an MSP, you can access information backed up on secure cloud servers even if your network has been compromised.
7. Authenticate Users
You probably already have a secure Wi-Fi network in place for guests to use, but maintaining security within your organization takes a lot more than just a password (especially if that password is “guest”).
For additional security, consider adopting two-factor authentication (2FA) that asks for additional credentials after a password has been entered. 2FA can include a PIN number, a security question, or even a biometric scan using a fingerprint, iris scan, or voice recognition.
8. Prioritize Email Security
Email is one of the most used applications in the hospitality business, and it’s also the one that cybercriminals are most likely to use when attempting to access your data.
Hackers use sophisticated spear-phishing attacks to gain login details, often posing as another employee. Another common tactic is social engineering, or preying on people’s socially conditioned responses to extract personal information or send them to malware-pushing sites.
Training all members of your staff to recognize these techniques is an important first line of defense, but specialized software can also help enhance email security.
9. Prevent Point-of-Sale Attacks
The moment of transaction is one of the most exploited vulnerabilities within the hospitality industry. In this type of cyberattack, third-party hackers target weaknesses within the system to access guests’ credit card information or other personal data. This can result in negative publicity as well as financial losses.
To prevent this type of attack, make sure your network is secure and avoid suspicious downloads, as these attacks are often associated with malware.
10. Be Aware of New Challenges
Rapid technological changes are revolutionizing the way companies do business, and the hospitality industry is no exception. Improving cybersecurity in the short term is a vital part of these developments, but it is far from the only way to protect your guests.
Forbes reports that new technologies such as biometric authentication for payment could be widely adopted in the hospitality business within the next five years. Of course, those new ways for guests to interact with their environment will present their own security challenges as well.
With so much personal data at stake, it is vital to take proactive steps to protect customer information.
Hospitality is big business, and that means hackers will always be looking for new ways to target your guests’ personal information. However, with these strategies, you can avoid cybercriminals, malware, and other “bed bugs” lurking online. For more advice about how to improve security, call 844-44-JMARK, send us an email at jmarkit@JMARK.com or visit the Contact Us page of our website