In the wake of limitless connectivity and current technological revolution, one would think that the hospitality industry would finally enter another golden age. Digital nomadism has already been established as modus operandi of this generation, while 24/7 accessibility is no longer a matter of debate. But instead of a futuristic renaissance, hoteliers are experiencing deteriorating safety issues.
The latest headlines from the industry are spreading the word of frequent phishing incidences, data hacks and security breaches. They are apparently taking a toll on luxurious hotels and small hospitality businesses alike, thus threatening not only individual brands but also the industry as a whole. It's certainly a reason for concern, though it's not a cause for panic, as reliable solutions actually do exist.
The following is the only hospitality Wi-Fi security checklist you need.
It All Starts and Ends with PCI Compliance and GDPR
When cybersecurity experts talk about PCI compliance, they don't mean it as a pro tip or an optional guideline. For all businesses in the hospitality industry, PCI compliance is mandatory. You simply cannot expect your guests to entrust you with their personal information without security assurance.
GDPR, or The General Data Protection Regulation is basically a law that deals with data protection and privacy everyone that lives in any country that is a member of the European Union. In essence, it regulates any kind of personal data that is exported outside the EU.
Luckily, that's where a reliable hospitality software company enters the scene. We'll talk more about the technology these companies provide later since for now, you need their professional opinion on overall security standards and on PCI compliant strategies you must employ for thorough coverage.
Software Security Is of Utmost Importance
Wi-Fi technology is not particularly complex, which is a reason more to keep it updated at all times. But it's not only Wi-Fi devices that can be vulnerable to cyber attacks. Laptops and computers are just as equally easy targets, and their security calls for trustworthy firewalls and regular system updates.
Trusting the Software Maintenance Expert
If your guest data is being stored on the cloud, there's really not much you can do about keeping it safe on your own. Every trustworthy hospitality software company that offers cloud-based hotel PMS solutions provide 24/7 technical support and do regular software maintenance on your behalf.
These companies are maintenance and security experts, so there's no need for you to interfere with their job. However, you should keep an open dialogue with their technical support, stay informed about their detection and prevention services, and apply them on all guest networks if necessary.
Here are a few things you should look out for:
- Firewalls - to protect your network from intruders
- Encryption - to keep longins and passwords secure
- IP based security - encryption based on the user's IP
Encryption Is Vital for a Safe Environment
Each and every one of the digital channels that you use for both internal and external communication must be properly encrypted. It's true that encryption can be cracked too, but it's perfectly natural that encrypted network devices can't be breached as easily as those without any layer of protection at all.
The problem is that Wi-Fi encryption tends to complicate things for guests. In a larger hotel environment, it can slow the connection down and cause problems for incompatible devices. It's still vital for cyber protection, though, so consider using a dual connection equipment that supports multiple networks.
Role-Based Access Brings Complete Control
All the best cloud-based hotel PMS systems, CRM suites, and BPM tools offer enterprise-grade security features that keep guest data and business intelligence under the lock. Safety issues that used to tarnish the cloud computing's name have been solved a while ago, so there's nothing to worry about.
Here, it is important to mention secure interfaces, meaning that all systems should work seamlessly with each other, but they should have a secure firewall bridge between them, and each system should be hosted on separate networks.
What you can do to build an additional layer of protection around these systems is to establish a role-based access control. Similarly to encryption, it works with unique credentials that are assigned to every member of the staff, while also giving you an option to limit access to those who don't need it.
Building a Culture of Security Awareness
With a hotel Wi-Fi being a public access network and with staff computers allowing access to the cloud database, the concerns about cyber safety in the hospitality industry are definitely not something to take for granted. Even with all security measures in place, the hotel network can still be vulnerable.
The only certain way to prevent cyber attacks is, therefore, a holistic approach that includes both reliable technology and security awareness. Make sure that all of your employees are trained to use hotel software and internet in a safe and responsible way and that all guests are advised to do the same.
In the hospitality industry, cybersecurity implies not only trustworthy Wi-Fi equipment, encrypted networks, and reliable cloud-based hotel PMS technology, but also security awareness. As long as you stay educated and informed on the latest threats, you will be the only firewall that your guests need.