The hospitality industry has been facing serious challenges over the past couple of years. The Covid Pandemic pulled the plug on the growth story of the hospitality industry. The industry that had not seen a slowdown for decades suffered a huge setback due to the pandemic.
Another challenge that the hospitality and travel industry has been facing is cyber security threats. Yes, these threats are now real and not a part of Sci-fi fiction stories.
A study from leading consulting firm PWC in its Hotel Outlook Report 2018 to 2022 stated that the hotel industry had the maximum number of data breaches after the retail sector. Marriott Hotel Group also revealed that various data breaches cost the company over $500 million in recent years.
In this post, we will be covering 5 cybersecurity threats to the hospitality industry.
And we will also be suggesting ways to stay clear of these threats (to the best possible extent!).
Without any ado, let’s get started with these common cybersecurity threats.
Point of Sale (PoS) Attack
PoS systems are common in the hospitality industry. From the Front Office at the hotels to the PoS system at food outlets and more; the chances of cyberattacks are plenty.
From card cloning to excess payments, these attacks can lead to losses of customers and the credibility of hospitality establishments.
The biggest disappointment for a hospitality website would be unreachable during peak season or peak hours.
The Hospitality industry has been one of the most common targets of distributed denial-of-service attacks or DDoS.
This type of hospitality cybersecurity risk is even for top hospitality companies when cyber criminals try to bring the website down by sending spam traffic.
These can also be competition-triggered targeted cyber attacks.
The use of a secure and reliable server and the use of CDN would be the first things hospitality organisations should do to prevent such attacks. Also, it would be a good idea for hospitality companies in the USA to host their websites using high-quality servers in USA. A high-quality hosting partner would be the first point of defence against DDoS attacks.
This is a new one. It is also apt to describe the cyber security risks hospitality companies have been facing.
In this type of internet attack, cybercriminals use the WiFi of the hotel being used by guests as the target.
According to a report reported by Socialtables, this type of hacking was first reported in 2007. This was specifically targeted at certain business guests who were encouraged to download malicious files implanted on the hotel server.
If your hospitality establishment has business guests, the use of a VPN is encouraged.
Malware and Phishing attacks
A lot of team members at your hospitality establishment might use their own devices at work.
This is very common in Hotels. Even the desktops used at times are not secure.
Malware of Malicious Software can attack the system due to downloading a wrong file, opening an infected website or clicking a malicious email attachment or link.
Phishing attacks are more common than ever these days. Criminals are sending emails by impersonating someone or some credible organisation. There can be malicious files, links or attachments that can infect your device or server.
The malware can infect the system leading to data breaches, data thefts and more. There are multiple ways to ensure these don’t happen at your establishment.
Customer Data Theft
Nothing is more precious for a hospitality organisation than the details of the customers.
Scammers and cybercriminals hack the data from the server of hospitality companies and sell them to your competitors.
At times the companies also store personal data or guests that may even include credit card details. These cybersecurity attacks can lead to this information being used by criminals and can jeopardise your business.
How to Avoid the Common Cybersecurity Threats
Now that we have discussed some of the most common cybersecurity threats for hospitality businesses let’s discuss a few ways to avoid them.
It is crucial to invest in Cybersecurity. A new report from Microsoft has explained the impact the recent pandemic had on Cyber Security reforms and the budget. All Hospitality companies should take a cue from it and invest properly in securing their digital data, servers and devices.
These are some of the ways to ensure the safety of your system and data from cybersecurity risks.
- Always keep all your software updated.
- Always keep your data backed up.
- Employees must be trained about cyber security risks. Information Technology team members should be encouraged to get cyber security certificates.
- The use of VPNs should be encouraged in hotels and hospitality organisations.
- Sensitising the customers about Cybersecurity while using the Hotel WiFi should be encouraged.
- Anti Malware software / Antivirus must be installed on all office devices.
- Hospitality organisations should invest in reliable hosting and CDNs.
- End-to-end encryptions should be used on the PoS system.
Here You go, some of the most common cybersecurity threats that all hospitality organisations face currently.
While technology is helping the hospitality industry in gaining competitive advantages, it also poses certain threats.
Artificial intelligence, cloud technology, Blockchain and Data analytics are game changers for hospitality and tourism. They are leading the post-pandemic fightback. However, with this development come cybersecurity challenges.
We listed some of the ways to mitigate these information technology security risks. Using these ideas will certainly help hospitality companies to steer clear of these challenges.