Preventing Data Security Breach in Hotels
Every industry in the world is going digital. Of course, the hotel industry is no exception. But while it might seem enticing to automate all manual processes, you have to ask a vital question. Is it really safe?
This article is meant to answer that very question. How much can you really trust a completely digitized system? This leads us to more questions like: How likely is it for data breaches to occur? And perhaps more importantly, how to prevent data security breaches in hotels?
Data is worth more than gold. No, that is not an exaggeration. If your data gets stolen, you don’t just suffer a temporary loss. It’s like losing your Social Security Number, which basically boils down to losing your identity. Someone might open a bank account with your details or you might see suspicious purchases on your credit card.
Hoteliers have a justified fear when it comes to using a Property Management System. No one wants to risk putting all their eggs in one basket. And that is exactly what a Property Management System does. It is one singular platform that lets you control all your hotel’s activities through an automated system.
With a Property Management System, you are agreeing to let a single software handle all your guests’ data. Not to mention, it holds all the data about your hotel’s internal workings as well. The fear that stems from this is valid. Can one security breach not bring this colossal giant to its knees? Won’t all processes screech to a stop the moment a data security breach happens?
Before I answer those questions, let us first understand this.
Digitized vs Manual: Which is Safer?
In case you think a digitized system is more at risk than a manually managed record-keeping system, pay attention.
A manually managed hotel is no more invulnerable to a security data breach than a digitized hotel is. And Noah Jaehnert, a security strategy specialist, is the one who can attest to that. In this article, he specifies how hackers attack both technical and non-technical resources. “Technical” here refers to systems whereas “non-technical” refers to people.
As you may know, one of the easiest ways hackers get malware into a system is through a practice called “phishing.” This process might target a system but the vulnerability that it utilizes is human ignorance. One of your staff members might be sent an email or SMS link that looks official. The moment they click on it, the malware will find a way into your system. No amount of advanced hacking is required for this purpose.
What if you make your hotel management system completely manual? I’m talking about paper records here. Can data still be stolen? Of course, yes. According to Noah Jaehnert himself, one of the “most vulnerable point in a hotel operation is its staff.”
So, the idea that going manual would safeguard your guests’ and your hotel’s data is completely baseless. You can understand this by asking yourself this simple question: Are your doors more secure than password-protected files?
This brings us to the next section.
Why is a Digitized Hotel Management System Safer?
A Property Management System like StayFlexi helps you out with a lot of things. Revenue management, auto inventory management, Point-of-Sale shops, and so much more. And yes, it regularly handles the payment info of your guests as well.
So, what makes a Property Management System safer?
The answer is simple. It’s the digital safeguards that you can use along the way. For example, the multi-factor authentication system is incredibly invulnerable. After all, every other payment channel uses this system as well. Do you practice net banking or use your credit card to pay? Well, a multi-factor authentication system is the one that protects your data even then.
Most systems use a two-factor verification system. First, the password has to be entered. Then one of these three things are asked for:
- An addition pin
- A link or OTP that is sent to your phone
- Your fingerprint or face ID.
The greatest part about a multi-factor authentication system is that it is customizable. You can add in layers if you are dissatisfied with your present security.
I am not trying to claim that this system is infallible. But it is as infallible as any of your other payment channels are. In other words, you are making sure your guests’ data is as secure as you can possibly make it.
Also, automated security safeguard processes are always more effective than the best staff training that you can provide. These processes include:
- Reminding your staff to set stronger passwords
- Giving them password update reminders
- Having a firewall that prevents suspicious sites from loading
- Filters that flag malicious links, etc.
Having said that, your Property Management System can only do so much. You, as a hotelier, also have to step up and boost your security measures. And remember, prevention is always better than cure. Don’t start thinking about putting in security measures when the data breach finally happens. You need to stay one step ahead of the hackers at all times.
Measures to Prevent a Data Security Breach in Your Hotel:
There is no reason why every staff member has to be given access to every bit of information. I’m not saying that staff members cannot be trusted. It’s just that, according to Noah Jaehnert’s own experiences as a security specialist, he encountered a very recurrent problem.
Staff members were willing to give him access to information if he managed to give them a convincing excuse. And this extended to granting him access to the staff communication devices and computer systems as well.
So, the easiest way to prevent this from happening is to limit the information that any particular member has access to. A Property Management System like StayFlexi allows you to do just that. You, as the property owner, can choose how much access you want to grant to a particular employee.
There are filters to cancel out the noise. So that employees from particular departments can keep up with the requests that are particularly meant for them. This works as a security measure as well. Because no one person, except you, is aware of every bit of information at once.
Keep Data Backup
Various hackers have various malicious intentions. Some just ask for a ransom in exchange for not deleting all the data. To prevent this from becoming a concern, make sure you have a backup of the data.
The great thing about cloud-based Property Management Systems is that you do not need manual data backup. It’s very easy to back your data up in an off-site location.
Separate the WiFi
Your WiFi network is often the most vulnerable target for hackers. They can sit in your lobby or book a room to gain access to the WiFi. It’s very easy to build a link between this public network and their private back-end network. Once the connection is secured, they may now breach your hotel’s internal network.
You need to ensure that your hotel’s internal workings are conducted on a separate WiFi network. This should not be the one that you give your guests access to. You can ensure this in two ways. Either has completely different hardware for the two WiFi networks. Or, have a Virtual Network or VLAN. A VLAN allows you to have an added layer of security between the external and the internet WiFi networks.
In this article, I wanted to stress two important points. A manually managed hotel system is no more invulnerable than a digitized one. And second, I highlighted the ways in which a digitized Property Management System provided you with more security options. This includes the multi-factor authentication system and automated security processes.
Of course, you still need to train your staff extensively. This gets easier if you’re using a Property Management System like StayFlexi. The reason is, you don’t have to spend a lot of time training them to use this PMS. So, you can easily dedicate this time to training them about security processes. And remember, StayFlexi will always be there to back this up.
Do you have any ideas about how a hotel management system can be made more secure? Leave a comment below!