Hoteliers, don’t make life easy on hackers
 
Hoteliers, don’t make life easy on hackers
01 JULY 2016 7:16 AM

Hoteliers are sometimes their own worst enemies when it comes to letting hackers breach their systems.

A couple of weeks ago, the HNN reporting staff came out with a pretty comprehensive special report on data breaches in hotels, which included where and why they happen, how to prevent them and what to do when you fall victim to them.

When I was reporting on my pieces of the project, I was struck by an anecdote from John Bell, founder and president of Ajontech, about a hotel he worked with whose operators kept their servers in the men’s bathroom off the lobby.

To me, that’s an absolutely shocking thing to think is acceptable in 2016. I was once again reminded of how lackluster some hotels’ security efforts are when I came across a recent Reddit post. The poster described how he accidentally took down a hotel’s entire network because he was trying to get into his own router and logged into the hotel’s by accident simply by plugging in the default username (“admin”) and password (“password”).

The reality is there are people out there who want to get your sensitive data and your guests’ sensitive data. It is your job to make that more difficult, not easier.

Data breaches are a real problem in this industry. This isn’t academic.

From owners to GMs to front-desk employees, everyone in the building has to accept the fact that security isn’t someone else’s responsibility or someone else’s problem. In this day and age, leaving your networks wide open because you can’t be bothered to close them down is akin to just leaving a cash register sitting wide open and unattended in your lobby.

I’m sorry if this is all coming across as a bit preachy, but whether hoteliers realize it or not, this is an issue that could greatly influence consumers’ overall confidence and comfort level in individual hotels, brands and multinational megacorporations. We live in a world of consumer choice, so no one out there is poised to survive having the reputation of a hotel who gives out private data.

This line of thought was brought up to me by Patrick Dunphy, manager of workgroups and IT for HTNG, while working on a story about where hackers might breach a hotel’s system.

“Those concerns trickle down to how hotels operate in the franchise model,” he said. Brands “have to make sure there are proper security procedures at all hotels. An individual hotel breach tarnishes the entire brand.”

So if I can make one more overt plug for our work: Go read our special report on how to prepare for, prevent and react to a data breach, and take the advice from the experts included in it seriously. The data you save might be your own.

Feel free to reach out to me by email or on Twitter to talk about what you’re seeing in the world of data security or even to share your hotel networking horror stories.

The opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Bloggers published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact and editor with any questions or concerns.

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