The internet has made traveling easier; you can search for top locations to visit, book a flight and hotel at your convenience. However, this also presents an avenue for data theft.
Think of how much data traveling and hospitality companies collect from millions of travelers every year.
It’s estimated that 6% of travelers book hotels on fake sites, which translates to about 15 million fake bookings and $ 1.3 billion loss plus credit card information theft. It’s estimated that the travel numbers will peak to 5.9 billion in 2030 from the current 3 billion.
That’s a lot of data for airlines, travel companies, booking companies, and hotels to hold. In the time when promoting direct bookings at hotel website is key to competitive advantages, all the players in the travel and hospitality industry need to improve their cybersecurity measures, especially on their websites.
Here is how they can accomplish this:
1. Multi-factor authentication (MFA)
If your hospitality website deals with Personally Identifiable Information, financial information, etc. you’re required by the state and federal regulations to use multi-factor authentication to protect customer data. Hundreds, thousands, or even millions of clients visit your site to book hotels, travel destinations, etc. and they trust you with their personal information. Aside from facilitating their bookings, you can also protect their data by incorporating MFA to your security measures.
It’s hard to crack single-factor authentication and even harder to crack multi-factor authentication. Think of your client’s data as the treasure and cyber attackers have to bypass at least two layers of security to get to the treasure. It’s annoying and time-consuming for the client, but ultimately the security benefits far outweigh the slight inconvenience.
2. Regular Backups
A good risk management strategy would tell you that you need a backup plan in case your defenses are breached. Anything can happen from an earthquake or hurricane that destroys your servers. Your computers could be razed down by fire or files corrupted by malware. You could also face an attack or system crash, but with a backup, you can recover faster.
Your website can be damaged by malware, making it impossible to repair. The other viable option is to restore your site from the most recent backup. Without a backup, you’ll have to rebuild the site from scratch or use the remaining good files.
Ensure that you backup your website regularly as it will help you restore the site if anything goes wrong.
3. SSL Certificate
The first thing any sensible client checks when they access your site is whether your site has a padlock at the beginning of the URL. If your site doesn’t have the padlock, they’ll probably exit the page and search for a site that has the padlock. 85% of online shoppers are wary of websites that they think aren’t secure.
An SSL Certificate is essential for any website regardless of whether it handles sensitive information or not. It protects the website and assures the users of data integrity. Its primary purpose is to encrypt information as it travels and ensures that it can only be accessed by the intended recipient.
The SSL Certificate protects data from prying eyes such as hackers as the information becomes unreadable until it reaches its destination server. It also provides authentication as your clients are certain that information goes to the intended server. On the internet, it’s easy for users to be duped; fortunately, the SSL Certificate ensures that user information goes only to the intended recipient.
The SSL Certificate makes it easy for clients to trust you with their personal information. A single click on the lock icon will reveal to them if the connection is secure.
4. Comply with the GDPR and PCI DSS Regulations
It doesn’t matter if you’re a small hospitality and travel website or authority that handles thousands of clients every week, GDPR and PCI DSS affect everyone who handles personal information. The former largely applies to EU members, but it also applies to your website if you have EU clients.
GDPR was implemented on 25th May 2018 to protect EU citizens’ personal data. Start by reviewing your website, payment processors, website cookies, customer database, booking engines, etc. or anything else that handles or processes personally identifiable information. Failure to comply with the GDPR could affect your reputation and attract hefty fines amounting to 20 million or 4% of your global turnover.
PCI DSS is similar to GDPR in that both protect customer data by imposing strict regulations that govern how entities handle personally identifiable information. The governing organization is strict, and failure to adhere to the regulations could result in hefty fines, and they could limit your ability to receive payments via credit cards.
Start by understanding the cybersecurity risks that you face and figure out the most effective way to eliminate these risks. You’re handling data from clients based in the U.S. and even foreign countries, the least you can offer is data protection.