Over the course of the last few years hospitality has become one the most frequently targeted industries for cybercrime. This is due to a number of factors, including the very nature of hotels being so highly personal. Hotels maintain vast amounts of confidential information from their customers and hackers have uncovered ways to access a number of them. In the majority of hacking instances however, the point-of-sale (POS) system is the target of their attacks.
The consequences of security breaches of hotel customer credit card data go beyond mere embarrassment. The costs to hotels can be astronomical, both directly financial and in terms of reputation damage to the brand. If travelers don’t feel as if their private information is safe, they will simply book their stay somewhere else. Hotel guests should feel confident in the hotel’s data security measures.
The transience of the hospitality industry, with new guests arriving everyday at hotels bearing their fresh personal and credit card data, ensures a steady stream of potential victims for cyber thieves. These criminals utilize malware, software designed to access all the customer’s credit card information through any payment system. This includes not only the numbers and expiration dates, but the verification codes as well. Nevertheless, there are a growing number of solutions available to hoteliers, in order to remain a step ahead of the hackers’ schemes.
Chip and Pin POS System
Amazingly, some merchants have not yet implemented Chip and PIN technology, making them the most vulnerable to hacking. Hoteliers must install the most up to date and secure chip-based technology, if they haven’t already, in order to safeguard the credit card information of their guests. Hotel staff must also be fully trained with strict protocol put in place for them to follow, in regards to handling credit card information.
For example, eliminate default passwords and give each staff member a unique log-in. absolutely no shared passwords under any circumstances. Also, ensure the POS system is always fully compliant with the strict PCI standards. The POS system must be isolated from all other in-house networks as well.
Monitor Access Services
The remote payment processing service is a point of extreme vulnerability to the spread of malware and often goes completely undetected. Frequently, these services have incorporated weak passwords which can open up the gates to literally thousands of POS machines. Monitoring tools are available to enable hoteliers to detect any malicious actions. Additionally, hotels should implement two-step authentication protocols as well.
In part two of this series we will examine further steps which hoteliers can take to ensure complete security of their POS systems.
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