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How Travel Businesses Can Securely Handle Customer Data

Qasim Hussain

2021-12-13 21:44:36

How Travel Businesses Can Securely Handle Customer Data

travel business

secure travel

customer data

To conduct proper business and cater to the changing needs of their customers, travel businesses need to handle customer data with the utmost sensitivity. Customer data management is vital due to a bevy of private financial information.

In today’s interconnected world, companies need to handle customer data securely. Here’s how travel businesses do it and how you can try it for your business too.

Update Your Hardware, Software, and Storage
 

Having a cybersecurity team in the tourism industry is not always a requirement in the tourism industry. Most travel companies use either a cloud-based system or an onsite data center. Smaller companies don’t even have dedicated servers to handle their business, simply having network storage and good internet.

 

The most important way to start with your cybersecurity efforts is to ensure that you install and update your software. Make sure that you have antivirus, antimalware, and antispyware protection. Have your software regularly updated and only work with what you need, rather than what you think you’d need.

One of the most significant issues that small travel businesses have with their networks is using software that they think works, only to never update it ever again. Software, including antivirus and antispyware, needs consistent updates as threats change.

If you don’t have it already, invest in a secure, dedicated server with minimal access used only for you and your employees. You can even invest in a cloud server if you don’t have the finances to buy hardware for your team.

 

Encrypt Your Network

With the software and the server, you want to ensure that your entire network is encrypted and protected, primarily when you transmit data. Encryption can help keep your data secure from anyone trying to intercept customer information.

Why should you do encryption now? The tourism industry handles a wealth of personal data, together with a combination of several important documents. From your passports, credit card information to your travel itinerary, the last thing you want is for these details to fall into the wrong hands.

Password protection is not enough anymore. Hackers can run exploits to access private information that is even put behind passwords. Even if companies add security policies, hackers will find malicious but unintended backdoors.

You can start small with your encryption efforts. Ensure that data transmission from your website uses SSL encryption and ensure that you have an HTTPS protocol for your website. If you can, use a virtual private network (VPN) to mask your IP address and encrypt your line. If you have to, encrypt your servers and end-user with data encryption solutions too.

 

Follow or Emulate GDPR Compliance Requirements

Depending on where you operate, one fantastic way travel businesses secure their data is compliance with the GDPR. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is an important EU legislation on data protection and privacy for end-users.

Travel businesses that comply with GDPR have requirements to give them certification. These rules include lawful and transparent processing of customer data, together with notifications and protections in case of an existing data breach.

For companies in the EU, GDPR compliance is a mark of protection. If you’re a business, you would want to emulate the rules that the EU set about to help protect your customer data. If you’re looking for a model to follow, these guidelines can help you outline the internal policies you can use to strengthen your data security further.

 

Secure Your Online Payment Processors

Travel businesses mostly use different online payment processors for ticketing and various travel packages. Frictionless experiences, however, may mean a less secure way of payment for your customers, which then puts their personal data at risk whenever they pay on your website.

There are three pillars to online payments in travel businesses. These are fraud management, regulatory compliance, and data security. These make the checkout experience simple, secure, and protected for all payment methods, from debit cards to credit cards.

 

To make your payment processing simple, there are several ways to do it. For starters, you can work with a third-party payment processor that handles all the security for you. Many of these processors have their own security environments that make it easy to secure payments.

If you’re looking to add your own payment processing, make sure to encrypt the data with SSL and TLS protocols, together with credit card payment tokenization, so hackers cannot access payment information with a stray link.

Request CVV to protect your company from identity thieves and require two-factor authentication for credit cards. Match IP address and billing information for your customers to flag potentially fraudulent transactions too.

 

Train Your Employees

Data privacy is crucial across all businesses, especially for the travel and tourism industry. This makes employees a valuable partner in cybersecurity measures to help you prevent hacking and protect customer data. Consistent education is vital for most travel businesses.

 

The tourism industry regularly trains everyone involved with security protections and measures to keep their data safe. Phishing attempts, malware, and ransomware can be pretty common in the industry, together with rather arcane ways of keeping passwords and data.

 

For example, some workers keep their usernames and passwords in notes stuck on their monitors. These pieces of paper are available for anyone to see, which opens the business to an endless number of eyes that can copy these security details.

Educate employees on the different types of cyberattacks they can experience. Ensure that they follow regulations to a T, especially if it’s strict compliance laws like the HIPAA or the GDPR.

 

Be Transparent

Like any business, the travel industry is privy to the entire customer journey. Companies will be there from start to finish, and a company needs to be upfront about its data privacy rules. At every touchpoint, it’s crucial to tell customers what data you get from them and what is kept during the process.

Do whatever privacy disclosure the law requires, from site cookies, tracking data, and credit card information. Make sure that the policy is clear and detail what kinds of protections you afford them. This can help build customer trust, especially towards a travel business that will handle sensitive information.

 

Final Thoughts

Travel businesses handle some of the most crucial customer data to give them a seamless, frictionless experience in their travels. Regardless of your size, it’s essential to follow the best practices for data privacy. Protecting customer data can assure your clients are safe and sound in your hands.

Tips on How Travel Agencies Should Prepare For Extreme Weather Conditions

Travel 

Tips on How Travel Agencies Should Prepare For Extreme Weather Conditions  194

Tips on How Travel Agencies Should Prepare For Extreme Weather Conditions

The weather becomes more unpredictable each day due to climate change which is why it is crucial for travel agencies to always prepare early for the worst. There are a lot of factors to consider when you’ll be facing extreme weather conditions especially because the lives of people are on the line. Knowing their basic information including health conditions is, therefore, a must. It is usually a protocol for travel agencies to send out a form to their clients which contains questions about their physical condition. This would be most helpful during situations such as being stranded in a place due to severe weather. To know more about how to better prepare for extreme weather conditions when planning for a trip, check out the tips below! Plan ahead. You wouldn’t want to wait for a crisis to happen so even there is no sign of rain, your agency should have an emergency preparedness plan in place. Your team should be used to monitoring offshore weather forecasts so everyone will quickly know whether you need to make trip adjustments. Regularly checking the weather forecasts can usually give you enough days of notice to prepare as needed. To plan for severe weather, you must have your list of contacts including the coordinators in the place you’re visiting aside from your clients. It’s also imperative that you’ve signed up for emergency notifications at regional public alerts. This can help you track road closures, traffic, and even access real-time weather information.  Another important task is to always stock up on basic provisions such as water, food, medications, and clothing among other things. You can charge as necessary should the need for them arises.  Create a communications plan. This is part of the whole preparation to become weather-ready since you wouldn’t really know what could happen. Some of the situations you can expect are power failures, loss of communication services, and incredibly cold temperatures. Make sure that you have a full list of who to contact during emergencies which includes the local government office, nearby hospitals, emergency contacts of those who are part of the trip, and the like. Some agencies also bring a radio with them in case the signal on mobile phones gets cut. It should be clear to your clients the point persons from your team to make them feel safer and be familiar with your team.If you have older adults joining your trip, you may want to consider bringing an easy-to-read thermometer that could be placed indoors and would be hassle-free for you to check frequently. This is because the elderly are more susceptible to health problems due to the cold.  Prepare your vehicle. It’s not only humans that need preparation but also machines so if you’re bringing the agency’s car, ensure that you get the radiator system checked prior to the trip. You may advise the same to your vehicle provider if you’ll only be renting one. Otherwise, you can check the antifreeze level yourself with a tester. It’s a must that you also verify whether the tires have adequate air pressure and tread. Other things you should check include the brakes, defroster, emergency flashers, ignition, exhaust, battery, and oil. When you’ve assessed that it’s alright to continue with the trip despite possible severe weather, the route should be planned ahead of time. The driver must also be reminded about travel safety procedures such as looking out for pedestrians and turning on the light to increase visibility. Bring an emergency weather kit as well with items like a flashlight, chains, snow shovel, first aid kit, jumper cables, bright-colored flags, waterproof matches, and a bag of sand among others.  Expect the worst-case scenario. When faced with an unpleasant situation, do not panic even if your clients already do. To give an example, if you happen to be stranded in the vehicle, stick with your emergency preparedness plan and show authority to calm the passengers. There’s no need to call 911 as well unless you’re having a bad medical situation on board. Wait for the conditions to improve as you pull off the road into a safe spot. Should you want to leave the vehicle, make sure it’s not in the travel lane and give clear instructions for everyone to walk with extra caution as you take the lead. Head for the most accessible public establishment or transit stop. Once everyone is secured, aim to retrieve your vehicle at the soonest possible time.  Don’t sweat the setbacks. The possibility of postponing and canceling trips due to severe weather has always been there in the travel industry. You should also be prepared for this. While waiting for conditions to be better, think of ways how to reengage your clients and make them take the trip again another time. You can also offer to hold off their fees should they wish to so they wouldn’t need to re-do the payment process. Being part of the travel industry requires much preparation, patience, and creativity. You just need to regularly gather useful information such as the weather forecast to weather any difficulties.  These are only a few of the tips on how to prepare for severe weather. Follow these while also ensuring that the whole team is in good shape to actualize the emergency plan. Once that’s also covered, you’re all set!

Qasim Hussain

2022-01-14 00:37:47

Why Should Travel Companies Become SOC 2 Compliant

Business 

Why Should Travel Companies Become SOC 2 Compliant  235

Why Should Travel Companies Become SOC 2 Compliant

Now that the travel restrictions are starting to ease up around the world, the travel industry is starting to get back on its feet.  As travel companies start to reopen and vie for the attention (and booking) of customers, it’s important to assure prospective clients that your company offers the best service.One way of gaining an edge over the competition is through compliance with various national and international standards. Among these standards is the System and Organization Controls for Service Organizations 2 or SOC 2 compliance. While this is not required by law, it adds credibility to your travel company and boosts confidence for your clients.To better appreciate, here are a few more details about SOC 2 as well as reasons why travel companies should pursue compliance with this standard. A voluntary complianceThe System and Organization Controls for Service Organizations 2 was developed by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). SOC 2 sets criteria that guides organizations on how to handle and manage customer data based on the Trust Services Criteria of security, processing integrity, availability, privacy, and confidentiality.SOC 2 reports are adapted to each business’ practices, and allows them to design process control measures that can help them adhere to these principles of trust. There are two types of reports under SOC 2 compliance efforts:Type I makes a summary of the company’s existing systems and whether it complies with the identified trust principles.Type II describes the operational efficiency of the systems detailed in the Type I report. Advantages of having an SOC 2 compliance.Having an SOC 2 compliance is greatly beneficial for a company, especially those in the travel industry. Travel companies regularly handle sensitive and confidential customer data including dates of birth, full names, and even credit card details. Being SOC 2 1. Customer protectionProtecting customer data should be paramount for all companies because having your business targeted by external attacks will cause customers to lose confidence in your business, not to mention your liabilities should they face danger or inconvenience because of their leaked data. Additionally, SOC 2 compliance is a testament to your company’s commitment to secure customer data and gives you a competitive edge over other companies that do not have the same compliance. Between a company that has something to show for its ability to protect its customer data and another that doesn’t, customers are more likely to go with the company that offers more value for their money. 2. Professional assuranceWith an SOC 2 compliance under your belt, you can rest assured that your networks and your systems are secure enough to handle and manage customer data. This assurance extends to your employees and their jobs and to even to your business and industrial partners. Additionally, using SOC 2 compliant software adds confidence that your systems are built on similarly secure software.Additionally, it also helps assure that your travel company is prepared to meet security standards that might be required by the federal government. Travel companies regularly coordinate with federal agencies. Some government branches require the use of security protocols to protect their transactions on top of customer data. 3. Boosts compliance effortsThe criteria and requirements to secure an SOC 2 compliance largely overlaps with other data security frameworks such as ISO/IEC 27001 or the international standard for information security management. It also dovetails with the standards as outlined in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which outlines the management and protection of sensitive patient health information–some of which are also handled by travel agencies.If you’re looking to boost your travel company credentials by complying with various data management standards, working out how to become SOC2 compliant at the beginning could make other compliance efforts easier. 4. Save on cybersecurity costsTo put it straight, working on an SOC 2 compliance will require you to update your systems and probably upgrade your existing equipment. This is even before the audit, which will also cost your company. However, all these will pale in comparison if your company becomes the target of a data breach.According to IBM, 2021 posted the highest average cost of data breaches in 17 years at  $4.24 million. This figure is expected to rise even higher in the following years. Keeping your systems updated and compliant to SOC 2 standards can help provide your travel agency with the protection it needs from the rapidly-evolving cybersecurity attacks. ConclusionRegardless of whether you're working for an international travel company or operating a small business in the same industry, you should start considering applying for an SOC 2 compliance certification. Not only does it give you something to brag and market about, it actually prepares your systems for the rigors and challenges of cybersecurity today. Additionally, it gives you a peace of mind knowing that you’re doing right by your customers. An SOC 2 compliance helps build confidence in your business and prevent data breaches that can cost your company a lot.

Qasim Hussain

2021-12-23 20:54:02

How Travel Businesses Can Securely Handle Customer Data

Travel 

How Travel Businesses Can Securely Handle Customer Data  271

How Travel Businesses Can Securely Handle Customer Data

To conduct proper business and cater to the changing needs of their customers, travel businesses need to handle customer data with the utmost sensitivity. Customer data management is vital due to a bevy of private financial information.In today’s interconnected world, companies need to handle customer data securely. Here’s how travel businesses do it and how you can try it for your business too.Update Your Hardware, Software, and Storage Having a cybersecurity team in the tourism industry is not always a requirement in the tourism industry. Most travel companies use either a cloud-based system or an onsite data center. Smaller companies don’t even have dedicated servers to handle their business, simply having network storage and good internet. The most important way to start with your cybersecurity efforts is to ensure that you install and update your software. Make sure that you have antivirus, antimalware, and antispyware protection. Have your software regularly updated and only work with what you need, rather than what you think you’d need.One of the most significant issues that small travel businesses have with their networks is using software that they think works, only to never update it ever again. Software, including antivirus and antispyware, needs consistent updates as threats change.If you don’t have it already, invest in a secure, dedicated server with minimal access used only for you and your employees. You can even invest in a cloud server if you don’t have the finances to buy hardware for your team. Encrypt Your NetworkWith the software and the server, you want to ensure that your entire network is encrypted and protected, primarily when you transmit data. Encryption can help keep your data secure from anyone trying to intercept customer information.Why should you do encryption now? The tourism industry handles a wealth of personal data, together with a combination of several important documents. From your passports, credit card information to your travel itinerary, the last thing you want is for these details to fall into the wrong hands.Password protection is not enough anymore. Hackers can run exploits to access private information that is even put behind passwords. Even if companies add security policies, hackers will find malicious but unintended backdoors.You can start small with your encryption efforts. Ensure that data transmission from your website uses SSL encryption and ensure that you have an HTTPS protocol for your website. If you can, use a virtual private network (VPN) to mask your IP address and encrypt your line. If you have to, encrypt your servers and end-user with data encryption solutions too. Follow or Emulate GDPR Compliance RequirementsDepending on where you operate, one fantastic way travel businesses secure their data is compliance with the GDPR. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is an important EU legislation on data protection and privacy for end-users.Travel businesses that comply with GDPR have requirements to give them certification. These rules include lawful and transparent processing of customer data, together with notifications and protections in case of an existing data breach.For companies in the EU, GDPR compliance is a mark of protection. If you’re a business, you would want to emulate the rules that the EU set about to help protect your customer data. If you’re looking for a model to follow, these guidelines can help you outline the internal policies you can use to strengthen your data security further. Secure Your Online Payment ProcessorsTravel businesses mostly use different online payment processors for ticketing and various travel packages. Frictionless experiences, however, may mean a less secure way of payment for your customers, which then puts their personal data at risk whenever they pay on your website.There are three pillars to online payments in travel businesses. These are fraud management, regulatory compliance, and data security. These make the checkout experience simple, secure, and protected for all payment methods, from debit cards to credit cards. To make your payment processing simple, there are several ways to do it. For starters, you can work with a third-party payment processor that handles all the security for you. Many of these processors have their own security environments that make it easy to secure payments.If you’re looking to add your own payment processing, make sure to encrypt the data with SSL and TLS protocols, together with credit card payment tokenization, so hackers cannot access payment information with a stray link.Request CVV to protect your company from identity thieves and require two-factor authentication for credit cards. Match IP address and billing information for your customers to flag potentially fraudulent transactions too. Train Your EmployeesData privacy is crucial across all businesses, especially for the travel and tourism industry. This makes employees a valuable partner in cybersecurity measures to help you prevent hacking and protect customer data. Consistent education is vital for most travel businesses. The tourism industry regularly trains everyone involved with security protections and measures to keep their data safe. Phishing attempts, malware, and ransomware can be pretty common in the industry, together with rather arcane ways of keeping passwords and data. For example, some workers keep their usernames and passwords in notes stuck on their monitors. These pieces of paper are available for anyone to see, which opens the business to an endless number of eyes that can copy these security details.Educate employees on the different types of cyberattacks they can experience. Ensure that they follow regulations to a T, especially if it’s strict compliance laws like the HIPAA or the GDPR. Be TransparentLike any business, the travel industry is privy to the entire customer journey. Companies will be there from start to finish, and a company needs to be upfront about its data privacy rules. At every touchpoint, it’s crucial to tell customers what data you get from them and what is kept during the process.Do whatever privacy disclosure the law requires, from site cookies, tracking data, and credit card information. Make sure that the policy is clear and detail what kinds of protections you afford them. This can help build customer trust, especially towards a travel business that will handle sensitive information. Final ThoughtsTravel businesses handle some of the most crucial customer data to give them a seamless, frictionless experience in their travels. Regardless of your size, it’s essential to follow the best practices for data privacy. Protecting customer data can assure your clients are safe and sound in your hands.

Qasim Hussain

2021-12-13 21:44:36

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