Cybersecurity for hotels, why it’s important and how cloud-based software solutions can help with this

by | Mar 16, 2023

Majority of world class hotels makes use of software to operate and conduct its day-to-day activities such as property management systems and point of sales systems as they support and assist the fluidity of hotel services. However, they impact the digital security of a hotel where it is challenged with a number of issues that makes cybersecurity an important element.

Although a majority of hotels still makes use of an in-house solution for system needs, a cloud-based solution can be more effective and efficient.

Modern security threats for hotels

At least around 45% of the world’s population has access to the internet with an estimate of 3.4 billion individuals making use of the internet extensively. Although this creates one homogenous market for products and services to be sold to customers, it also accounts for a fair share of threats due to which cybersecurity can be highlighted as an important element in information systems.

Similarly, in providing personalised services to customers, hotel brands across the globe makes use of a large amount of customer information, that provides the opportunities to offer an exclusive guest service. Most services offered by a hotel commences and concludes with credit card details; for example, making a hotel reservation, enjoying a drink at the bar, booking a spa treatment and ordering meals out of the à la carte menu, all requires credit card details of the customers to be stored in each customer profile. This makes it much easier for transactions to be made through customer curation. An insecure network can be hacked in two ways; either physically through the device used for swiping the credit card or virtual attacks through access to credit card details alone. Either way, it has the ability to compromise data security rights of customers and users of the system.

Moreover, a hotel’s Wi-Fi can also be hacked through which guest information can be accessed by the hacker, where a guests’ data can be breached by accessing devices such as personal mobile devices and laptops. A breach in guest information can lead to a number of privacy issues for the hotel management in case of a poor protection mechanism set forth by the property. In case of a breach in data within the hospitality industry, it can lead to a number of service failures that can impact guest satisfaction. It can also impact the brand reputation and brand image. Therefore, protecting the customer and as well as the hospitality management firm is equally important against breaches of data privacy. The cybersecurity threats have increased by 15% when comparing 2020 to 2021 according to Forbes.

1. Social engineering attacks

Social engineering is a technique used by hackers to gain access to confidential and private information of internet users. A social engineering attack may look like an email from a friend in your contact list. Using one password everywhere can be a high risk for individuals as hackers can thereafter gain access to the victim’s social media accounts and contact list. Mostly containing a link or a download, these messages will try to unlock passwords of others in the same contact list.

2. Phishing attempts

Known as a subset of social engineering attacks, phishing attempts can take place as a result of imitation of a trusted source. It is made evident from the Data Breach Investigations Report that phishing attempts accounts for over 93% of the data breaches found globally. The phishing attack can take place based on an email coming from a legitimate source, as a donation for a charitable foundation or can also come as a problem that requires the user’s support to be solved. It can also appear as a cash claim, or a lottery win for the victim. Therefore, phishing attempts can be highly diverse in terms of its appearance.

3. Code vulnerability

Code vulnerability refers to issues and drawbacks in a system software which is categorised as a flaw in the coding structure that creates potential risk towards the information system. The attacker makes advantage of a vulnerable code through the attachment of an endpoint to access data. Similar attacks also include tampering of the data sources and or, in worst case scenario, deleting all data within the system.

Therefore, code vulnerabilities can be of very high risk to the user and the property management as well. This leads solution providers to defend coding structure, offering simpler and a more scalable remedy that assists in reducing the risks caused by code vulnerability.

4. Bad password management

A bad password can be created due to a number of ineffective password management practices of users of information systems. A weak password can be created due to reuse of passwords, sharing passwords, having the same password for all account log-ins and as well as hard-coded credentials. Moreover, bad password management can lead to major breaches in cybersecurity.

Some of the ineffective password management behavior has changed over the years with several information systems requiring passwords to be created including upper case and lowercase letters and numerical values to be included in the password. Changing passwords every three months at least can also overcome bad password management practice. Therefore, using a strong and unique password can be highly effective to practice good password management techniques.

How cloud-based solutions help hoteliers with cybersecurity

Firstly, in order to provide a total solution for hoteliers that are victims of cyberattacks, it is essential to educate employees on managing such situations in order to avoid them. Although this is not a critical emphasis given by most service providers, certain service providers offer total solutions with education and training so that employees could handle similar situations and take corrective action to mitigate risks associated to cyberattacks.

In order to provide with solutions for cyberattacks, it is not required for a costly development team or a code audit to work on various scenarios time to time when they occur. The cloud solution providers would already have them in place, which makes cloud-based systems more attractive in comparison to on-site system. In addition, cloud-based systems would keep back up of data on a regular and periodic method so that backups are made on a timely manner, further minimising risks to the hoteliers as a support team will be allocated to meet recurring issues within cloud-based systems. This ensures strong methods of security being deployed, so that cloud-based systems are strongly secured against cybercrimes in comparison to on-site systems.

Things to consider before getting a secure hospitality software solution 

One of the key factors to consider when purchasing a hotel software solution is to decide on the cost factors and the budgeting decisions of the hotel management. Although budgets are smaller at start, with the development and growth of the firm, this can increase. Therefore, decide upon the scalability and adaptability of the system, as the growth potential is a crucial element for a system to be long-lasting. Therefore, the system should be sufficient and scalable based on the future needs of the hotel.

The security compliance and the ability of the system to fightback various cyberattacks can be dependent upon the quality of the overall system. Service providers offering cloud-based system also provide a strong defense against cyberattacks. Such services ensure that the quality of services offered provides users with reassurance that services are reliable and effective in solving recurring problems on a 27/7 basis.

It is also important to highlight that when deciding on purchasing a hotel software solution, it is essential to proceed with secondary market research information that can be found on various suppliers of software solutions.

Checking on Google rankings and reviews can be one way of deciding and re-confirming your decision on selecting a suitable supplier. Therefore, Google reviews also has the propensity to identify those suppliers that has a proven track record in offering software solutions for hotels through past customer experiences. Customer reviews can also be identified as e-word of mouth, which is a strong mode of advertising based on digital landscape. Such knowledge based on secondary sources of information can provide strong evidence of performance of various providers of hotel management software.

In addition, having a disaster management and data recovery plan is another essential element that a hotelier should think of when purchasing a hotel software solution. While a majority of service providers may offer attractive pricing, it should not be compromised with quality. While this is an important area of concern, contingency planning and scenario planning is an essential element in a total software solution for hotel management.

This is where IDS Next comes to play, as all services provided are of high quality, with efficient support mechanism with contingency planning, that allows your hotel to plan ahead, implement best practice in managing cybersecurity.