When guests come to stay at a hotel, they are expecting to have a comfortable visit where they can relax and enjoy life without feeling any sense of danger whatsoever. If they do feel threatened, they will likely go elsewhere, and since many hotels within the industry are just starting to reopen their doors after the COVID-19 pandemic, this is not a time where potential guests should be turned off.

While protecting their physical wellbeing with proper door locks and security guards is great, their digital presence is just as at risk from hackers and cybercriminals looking to steal personal data and payment information.

When guests are using their smartphones and laptops while staying in your hotel, proper precautions should be taken to ensure that they are not the unsuspecting victims of digital crime. Below is a guide to providing a cyber-secure experience to your guests.

Importance of Protecting Guest Information

These days, most hotel reservations and accommodations are completed online. When guests check-in, they provide a bevy of private information, from phone and credit card numbers to addresses and the license plate numbers from their cars. Any of this information can be used by hackers to take out fraudulent loans, send phishing emails, or sold for cash on the black market for other criminals to purchase and use at their discretion.

On top of the convenience of placing reservations online, many hotel employees are still working remotely where they may not have the assistance of an IT team to ensure that their home computers are secure. Hotels need to be proactive with cybersecurity and stop threats before they begin because catching an incident after the fact could be disastrous for your business. Major chains, including Marriott, have been sued in the past due to data breaches, and the costs and damage control efforts can sometimes be too much to take.

All of this explains just how important cybersecurity is to the hotel industry, so if your location doesn’t have the proper protections, it is time to create a plan. Find and bring in tech experts who can check your systems for vulnerabilities and have those holes patched up and secured.

Since many hackers are going after financial information, it is also a smart idea to a consult financial advisor, like an accounting analyst, and ask for their advice on creating more secure financial and accounting processes. You can combine the information that the money experts provide with data from the IT pros to create the ultimate security system at your hotel.

Advise Customers of Threats

Hotel management needs to do their part to inform guests of potential cybersecurity threats so they don’t fall victim during their stay. For instance, residents should be advised to never leave their smartphones unattended when they are in the hotel’s public areas and keep their cell phones locked with a proper passcode when they are out and about. Signage can also be placed throughout the establishment to remind customers to close their room doors when they leave so laptops and tablets cannot be physically removed by criminals.

Phishing scams, which are fake emails or texts from hackers pretending to be a figure of authority in the hopes that the victim will click a link or open an attachment, are also a threat in hotels. If a guest falls for one, the hacker can upload malware or ransomware onto their system.

Employees should be advised about these risks when working remotely and guests should also be educated on phishing scams and be told that if they get a suspicious email that appears to be from the hotel asking for their credit card information, they should call the front desk to verify if the message is legitimate.

Mobile security should always be a priority for your guests. When guests are attempting to connect to public Wi-Fi in their rooms, the restaurant, or while paying bills, they should be directed to the correct network and be warned about the dangers of joining unsecured Wi-Fi networks.

Often, a hacker will set up a fake network that looks similar to the hotel name or claims to be free, in an attempt to draw in a victim. But when the guest connects to the fraudulent network, they are really connecting directly to the hacker. If possible, the hotel should only allow access to their network to avoid this threat from becoming a reality.

Protect Your Hotel Network

While you can advise guests to be careful with their electronic devices during their stay, the hotel network itself must be protected and employees should be trained on how to secure their computers so a virus cannot enter the system. That starts by installing antivirus software on all systems and running scans every week to catch potential threats. This software must be updated regularly so you can catch the newest viruses and scams.

Employees should also be advised of the importance of strong passwords on all programs throughout the hotel network. The best passwords include a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters and they should be updated bi-monthly. If you have a large hotel with many different passwords, it may be wise to use a password manager that will keep track of all of your codes. A manager should have access to the master password required to open this program if a password is forgotten.

It is also a good idea to have backup systems in place where all customer data is transferred immediately upon receipt. This could be especially important in the case of ransomware, which is a virus that renders a computer system useless until a ransom is paid to the hacker. Instead of giving in to their demands, you can back up your systems seamlessly and then get the police involved.

With so many guests coming and going, creating a protected network and a safe experience is more important in a hotel than almost any other establishment. Try the tips and advice above and your guests will thank you for the consideration and stay with you again in the future.


Jori HamiltonJori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of topics but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to the hospitality industry, business productivity, and marketing strategies. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn. 

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