It goes without saying that traveling can sometimes be a hectic endeavor. Between all the planning and booking, not to mention the physical act of transporting yourself from one location to another, it can take quite the toll. That’s why the last thing you want to worry about once you finally reach your destination is a hacker hiding out in your hotel curtains.
Hotels are becoming an increasingly common and lucrative target for cybercriminals, due to their unsecure networks and the proliferation of smart IoT devices in rooms. This could be everything from the smart TV in your room to the electronic key lock on your door to the IoT-connected vivarium in the lobby. And because hotels rely heavily on point-of-sale (POS) systems—for billing, restaurant/bar transactions, on-site facilities, etc.—hackers that breach these can easily run off with the personal and financial data of any hotel’s guests.
Look no further than the massive Marriott data breach late last year—the second largest known theft of personal data and records to date—as proof of this growing threat landscape. Because of this trend, nearly one-third of hospitality business leaders are concerned that customers will stop doing business with them if they suffer a data breach. This concern is certainly justified—74% of hotel companies report having no data breach protection in place.
As business becomes more global, large swaths of the workforce are now finding themselves frequently traveling to new cities where they stay and work in hotels. The unseen, oft-overlooked danger from all of this globetrotting lies in the back doors within these hotel networks and embedded smart devices that hackers are easily exploiting to steal everything from trade secrets to personal data to valuable corporate information.
With that said, it’s crucial for hotels to secure all of their connected devices and “things” but as the data above shows, a majority have no concrete cybersecurity defenses in place to ward off hackers and keep their customers’ data secure. Not to mention the fact that they’re not working to adopt cyber hygiene best practices as they become increasingly connected and “smarter.” That’s because most hotels would rather spend money on upgrading or improving things their customers can actually see and experience rather than creating a more secure Wi-Fi network, for instance.
And yet, to continue providing top-notch customer experiences, some hotels are experimenting with including digital voice assistants in each room and using biometrics such as facial recognition for the check-in/check-out process. Adopting these IoT, embedded devices opens up their attack vector even more. A solution like BlackBerry Certicom can help with the authentication of these devices to ensure that all data is protected and secure while establishing a sense of trust and safety among customers.
In a perfect world, the bulk of this security burden would fall on hotels themselves. But it’s also important for travelers—especially corporate ones—to understand the importance of endpoint device management and security. The situation has gotten so dire that some cybersecurity consultants are warning corporate clients to forgo using their personal and work devices completely while traveling. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a way to travel, be productive and remain secure all at the same time.
For companies that have many frequent fliers, a solution like BBM® Enterprise can help keep employees and critical business data secure. BBM Enterprise offers secure text, voice, video and group chat on any device—from smartphones to laptops—complete with end-to-end encryption on multiple endpoints and robust privacy policies. That way, all of the devices and information you need to work will have an enterprise-grade line of defense when operating off a public hotel Wi-Fi network.
As the hospitality industry slowly but surely starts to take cybersecurity and endpoint management more seriously, travelers don’t have to walk into their hotel rooms with a looming sense of dread that a hacker is lurking underneath their King-size smart bed. There are solutions and options for keeping personal and professional data secure as hotels get up to speed on securing their networks, fortifying their IoT devices and start barricading their back doors. When travelers can breathe a sigh of relief knowing their personal or professional devices, data and information are secure, true hospitality and comfort will have been delivered.