A lot of businesses have been affected by cyber crime lately. With tons of valuable data stored in their databases, it attracts bad guys to hack their data and turn that into money. Unfortunately, hotels are one of the most targeted businesses. Why? There are credit card numbers, guest data, emails, business reports, and so on kept in their servers. This turns hotels into a mega gold mine for hackers.
What do they do with hacked data?
- They sell
- They empty the credit cards
- They phish
- And they keep the data hostage for cash
They find vulnerabilities in the IT network of a hotel and inject malicious scripts directly to the hotel’s server. Then they got what they need.
Apart from monetary damages and data loss, hacked hotels also face huge reputation degradation which directly affects its bottom line and credibility instantly.
So let’s get to the point.
How can you prevent your hotel(s) from being hacked?
- Install anti-virus software
It’s obvious that you should install a good anti-virus software in all computers used in your hotel. Doing so makes it harder for hackers to find a hole in your system and inject bad virus to your database.
- Run a virus scan constantly
- Always update your anti-virus software
- Block users’ access to anti-virus software settings
- Use strict IT network settings
Weak settings is easy for hackers to get into your network. You should set strong configurations of both the server and client computers to make it hard for cyber criminals to get your data.
- Always turn firewall on
- Encrypt important information like credit card numbers
- Control user access
- Rollback computers to default when restart
- Backup continuously
The more frequent you back up your data, the safer your data is. This is because if you get hacked, you can still restore the most updated data and your business operations won’t be interrupted. But if you don’t backup and you’ve been hacked, you might lose your data forever plus consequential damages from such event. So backing up your data constantly is a great way to reduce damages to the least when being hacked.
- You can save time by scheduling automatic backup
- Always backup your data and keep it in isolated place
- Control access to key data
Manage rights of whom can access your data is a must. General users shouldn’t be able to access important data and settings of your IT systems. This applies to all things related to IT in your hotel.
- Make IT environment a closed system
It means that you should make your IT environment as isolated as possible so that outsiders can’t get inside your IT environment. This will make your data safer and harder for hackers to get inside.
- Block access from outsiders
- Prohibit use of business computers by outsiders
- Disallow external devices to connect to business computers
- Prohibit external data transfer
- Force use of strong password
Easy password can be hacked easily even those without computer knowledge. Avoid setting password that include consecutive numbers like “1234” or “987654321”. Make sure everyone’s passwords used to access your business systems must be set strong.
- Password should have more than 8 characters
- Mix upper and lower case characters
- Mix numbers and characters
- Include special characters like #$*&(%!-_
- Prohibit personal uses of business computers
Everyone makes mistakes. The best way is to don’t ever let that happened. Disallowing everyone in your hotel to use business computers for personal purpose can reduce risk of your hotel from being hacked. Such personal uses are downloading random files, installing random files, playing social network, and so on.
- Always check for vulnerability
If your hotel has dedicated IT department, you can do this easily. But if you don’t, you can use service from external IT specialists. The purpose of vulnerability check is to detect any weakness in your system which can be exploited by hackers. Once you know it, you can close that hole permanently.
- Use secure business software
Because data stored on business software database is the most valuable thing, using business software that has high security level can keep your data safe. For hotels, most of the data is kept in the property management system. You have to use a PMS that is almost hack-free like Smart Finder PMS. If yours is not secure, chances of being hacked are high and you wouldn’t want that to happen. Would you?
- Isolate your business WiFi
It’s wise to make your WiFi connection private. Allowing outsiders to use the same WiFi as your business is very risky. By that, it means hackers can get inside your system via the same WiFi that your business is using. Once they get in, they can do things like you can.
- Keep your apps and operating system updated
One way to cover a hole in your hotel’s network is to keep updating you applications and operating system. Each patch released may contain a security upgrade that shut the door for hackers to get in.
- Block dangerous websites
Dangerous websites can be a cause that leads to your data being hacked. Such websites can make the whole system infected which will be a path for hackers to get into your system. You can elevate security setting levels on your browser to be higher which automatically block threatening websites. Or installing anti-virus software said above can help detect any hazardous malware before it harms your system.
- Don’t open a website that looks untrustworthy
- Don’t download random files from the Internet
- Don’t open any spammy email
Contributed by Thanapol Raktham, Director of Business Development from Smart Finder.