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The Importance of Cybersecurity in the Tourism Industry

Qasim Hussain

2021-09-05 11:29:56

The Importance of Cybersecurity in the Tourism Industry

Cybersecurity

tourism industry

travel businesses

secure travel

Booking flights and hotels for vacations or business trips is something people do as part of the normal course of their lives. What they don’t realize is that the tourism industry has some of the highest number of security breaches. Think about it: when you book that flight or reserve a room at a hotel, you use either your personal or corporate credit cards to pay for them. When buying your tickets, you put in personal information that could be stolen and used by hackers to steal your identity. 

The amount of sensitive, personal data that hotels and travel companies keep in their databases makes them a prime target for cyber criminals. That is why one of the areas that these companies need to focus on is protecting client’s data. Cybersecurity is something that players in the hospitality industry need in order to protect their clients. 
 

What is cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity is keeping your computer networks secure from data breaches, theft, misdirection of service, and damage to both software and hardware. Cyber criminals target industries that hold sensitive data that they could exploit for gains. 

Cybersecurity has several common categories:

  • Network security. This refers to the protection of your computer networks from malicious attacks, either internal or external. One example of network security is your network firewall. This is basically a gate that stops malware and other suspicious activities and untrusted networks from breaching your network while allowing authorized users entry into your secured network. 
     
  • Information security. This refers to protecting data privacy. Whether customer data or company data, information security keeps all manner of data secure and accessible only to those that have clearance to do so. 
  • Operational security. This encompasses all internal cybersecurity. From granting access to employees to data retention and destroying data all in accordance with local and international regulations, whichever applies. This includes training and educating employees on the risks of data breaches and the importance of keeping data secure. 
     

Common types of cyberattacks in the tourism industry and how to protect your organization

  1. Phishing

This is perhaps the most common scam of them all. Phishing emails often disguise themselves as promotional emails, news emails, sometimes even emails from your bank asking you to change your password and providing you with a link where you can change it. 

Cyber criminals have learned to mask these emails to make them look legit. As people become more aware of this modus operandi, the people behind them evolve their attacks. 

There are two general types of phishing attacks: whaling and spear phishing. 
 

  • Whaling phishing. Usually targets individuals like C-level managers or the “big fish” in companies. Hence, the name: whaling. The aim is to steal money or sensitive data. 
  • Spear phishing. This targets individuals lower on the totem pole. The main idea is to breach the company by getting a particular employee to click a link that would give the criminal access to the company's systems. 

There may be other types of phishing, but these two are the most common in the hospitality industry. 
 

How to protect your company:

  • Educate your employees. Make them aware of what phishing emails could look like. Ensure that they check the sender’s email address and scrutinize it. Make employees use secure passwords that no one else has access to. 
     
  • Install and update security software. This is the first line of defense against phishing attacks. Spam and web filters, antivirus software, and firewalls are all part of security software that protects your company from being breached. 
     
  • Back up your data. To prevent data loss, constantly back up your data so that it can be recovered in case of emergencies.
     
  1. Distributed denial of service or DDoS attacks

Cyber criminals love using DDoS attacks to disrupt their target hotel’s servers by flooding them with a sudden heavy influx of internet traffic. This will bring the target’s server down, disrupting their system to the point of grounding all services to a halt. This is done all in the name of money. 
 

How to protect your company:

  • Early identification helps. You can stop a DDoS attack on its tracks if you catch it on time. 
     
  • Invest in a good anti-DDoS service. You can call them in case of an attack. Or call your ISP service provider. 
     
  • Have a plan ready. Don’t wait for an attack to happen. You need to have a plan in place for any type of cyberattack against your networks. 
     
  1. Malware and ransomware

These are malicious software that can corrupt your computer or access data and hold it for ransom. These are used to spy or destroy data and install more infectious malware into your system. 
 

How to protect your company:

  • Install anti-malware. This is your first line of defense against malware and ransomware attacks. 
  • Keep systems updated. Most updates include security patches that help keep malicious software out. 
  • Ensure that flash drives are malware-free. Some companies even prohibit the use of flash drives to prevent any chances of having their systems infected with malware. 
     

Take away

Cybersecurity is an integral part of the tourism industry. There are ways to prevent cyberattacks as long as both employers and employees are educated, the right security systems are in place, and all systems are up-to-date. 

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