It is well known that customer data is a powerful tool in the hospitality industry. These insights can allow hotels to provide a personalised experience that helps them create relationships with their guests. Although many hotels utilise this data, they must also ensure that it is stored securely.
In the weeks leading up to the introduction of GDPR, many businesses in the hospitality industry scrambled to become GDPR compliant. For many businesses, it was the first time they thought about the guest data they possessed, and what protocols they should adopt to ensure the privacy rights of guests. Since the introduction of GDPR, many hospitality businesses have begun an ongoing journey that requires hotels to take a diligent approach to data collection, storage and usage. Data security is not just a small process in a business, it is a core component of all business strategies.
Data Collection and GDPR Compliance
Before a hotel can efficiently protect guest data, the business must understand what type of data is being collected, how it is stored and how is the data being used.
Through evaluating the data hotels collect, they can identify which information is most valuable to cybercriminals and ensure this data is secure.
Within the hospitality industry, there are 3 primary forms of data that are collected, these
Cybercriminals are generally most interested in personal information and transaction data. Businesses must be aware of which information is most valuable to cybercriminals in order to effectively store it.
Train Your Team!
When a reservation is taken over the phone, many hotel employees will input it directly into the hotel’s property management system, which may be accessible by many different levels of employees.
These team members may or may not have been trained in data security protocols. When guest data is readily available for employees across a business, hotels must ask themselves who is handling the data and what type of data is being handled (e.g. credit card information, guest information, etc). From this, a business can segment what team members can access by enforcing strict permissions.
One of the biggest risks in data security comes from employees exporting data found in internal systems. When data is exported and shared through unsecured channels, information can be at risk instantly.
The first step in increasing data security within a business is to ensure every employee is trained on data security and is comfortable with the data they are handling on a regular basis. These employees should also understand what types of data should not be shared through unsecured or unsanctioned channels. Hotels can prevent data breaches and leaks by assigning permissions to team members, e.g. defining which team members can view data and who can export data. All users who have access to internal data should log in through Multi-Factor Authentication
In relation to IT within the hospitality industry, there has been a dramatic shift from on-premises technologies to cloud-based software. Due to this, many cloud-native applications now operate on smartphones and tablets which allows team members to access data on the go, because of this businesses must put processes in place to ensure data remains secure.
This BYOD trend that is growing in businesses of all industries creates many data protection and access challenges for businesses. However utilising a secure cloud solution, such as Office 365 or Microsoft SharePoint and embracing Multi-Factor Authentication can deter cybercriminals from accessing essential data.
Choosing the appropriate IT Partner for your business is an essential step in securing your business’ network and data. At HCS Business Solutions we are proven experts in securing a business’ data. Our proactive approach ensures your data remains protected against ever-evolving cyber threats.
With the continuous advancements in digital technology, businesses cannot compromise security and performance. Hackers are continuously discovering sophisticated methods to infiltrate your business’ networks. As Fortinet partners, we are recognised experts in Network Security. While introducing improved cybersecurity techniques in your business, you must understand your business’ external vulnerabilities that a hacker may seek to exploit. Our External Vulnerability Testing highlights the safety of your IT network from an outward presence and demonstrates where you can minimise the consequences of an attack.
Security Should Be A Priority
Although data protection laws are enforced, businesses are expected to comply with them, therefore having an appropriate data security system makes business sense.
The government cannot be aware of a rogue employee sharing confidential information. The strongest protection for hospitality operators is to first and foremost, ensure all employees know the best practices of data protection and the external factors that affect data security.
Hotels are continuously evolving their service offerings, whether a hotel takes bookings through social media or offers an AI Assistant in their rooms, hospitality businesses are increasing their engagement with customers and their data. While this technology and data benefits both the hotel and guests, it must be protected and managed appropriately, this includes what is collected, who has access to it and how it is used, this ensures that data remains secure within your hotel.
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Appropriate security protocols are essential for all businesses, however as hotels and other businesses within the hospitality industry have access to the personal data of both employees and customers, they must ensure that data is secure from security breaches and cybercriminals.
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