Data breaches pose a worrying and damaging threat to all kinds of industries and businesses around the world.
In a cyber attack, hackers take all types of sensitive business information - from email addresses to home addresses and credit card data.
A breach of the security of your B&B guest information negatively impacts your brand's reputation and can seriously harm future revenue. As the owner, you need to ensure that you provide complete digital security to customers.
This blog explains everything you need to know to protect the data of your guesthouses and guests.
Data security means protecting data against access, theft or damage to data by unauthorized persons. Data security can be affected by cyber attacks or data breaches and can have serious consequences for businesses, especially small businesses that may not have the means to recover.
Watch this video for expert advice on how you can protect your hotel from data security threats:
Data security breaches: is your B&B in danger?
Small hotels and guesthouses are common targets of data breaches, and this is due to credit card payments. The security breach occurs online because that's where your customers make their reservations or front desk staff make reservations on their behalf.
No hotel is too big or too small to be a target. In fact, the smaller your property, the more vulnerable you are to attack.
Types of security breaches
There are three security threats you should be aware of:
Malware, short for malware, is the most common and dangerous online security threat due to its diversity. This poses many dangers for hotel technology like reservation systems. The types of malware you may be familiar with include viruses and ransomware.
Spam refers to an unsolicited message - usually advertising material (think of the "spam" folder in your email). But in some cases, spam messages can contain dangerous malware and be very convincing. Avoid opening emails and clicking on links that look suspicious or ask you to provide money or personal information.
- DoS attacks
A denial of service (DoS) attack occurs when a hacker or virus shuts down a machine or network and prevents access to it by its intended users. DoS victims are usually high profile organizations that people have slight opposition to, so you might be off the hook here.
Is your B&B PCI Compliant?
The PCI Compliance Guide defines the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) as "a set of requirements designed to ensure that all businesses that process, store, or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment."
PCI compliance means that you have met a set of security standards required for processing financial transactions online. A PCI compliant merchant account will have a secure server that allows you to process payments.
Is your B&B site HTTPS secure?
Nothing is more important to online travel bookings than website security. Their personal and payment information should be kept safe, and if they shop at your B&B site, they should know they can trust it.
Most websites use "SSL encryption" to protect data transmitted between a website and a buyer. SSL encryption requires a form of secure communication between a website and the consumer, known as HTTPS - where the "s" stands for secure.
This is shown to the user in the URL which displays `` https '' and it also shows the padlock symbol on the left side of the URL bar which reassures people that their data is safe when entering. private details.
So what does this mean for your B&B?
Since July 2018, Google has favored secure HTTPS websites. If your site is not secure, Google may warn users that it is not secure and may even restrict access to your web pages.
84% of users say they would abandon a purchase if the data was sent over an insecure connection, with many worried their data could be stolen. So if your B&B wants to convert direct bookings and maintain a high ranking on the Google search results page, it is essential that you become HTTPS secure.
When buyers see the little padlock on their browser, it gives them peace of mind and an immediate sense of confidence in your business.
How to become HTTPS secure?
One of the easiest ways to keep your B&B site safe is to invest in a professional Website builder tool. This solution will automatically come with secure encryption and will also help you maintain a functional and charming B&B site.
The advantage of using a customizable website builder is that you will have your brand new website in a matter of days, and it will automatically keep pace with Google updates over time.
Does your B&B use a secure online payment gateway?
Accepting reservations through your website is necessary, but you also need to have a safe and secure online payment gateway for this to work.
While travelers prefer the ease and convenience of booking online, they also want to make sure they're working with a reputable supplier who will keep their personal and financial information secure.
Payment gateways are third-party services that process card payments on behalf of your hotel. They will generally take a small percentage of each booking for the use of their service.
An online payment gateway is a system that works with your booking engine to enable you to process secure online payments. It will authorize the credit card information of customers who want to make their reservations instantly on your website.
Make sure your Property management system (PMS) supports secure transmission of payment card details and sends customers an automatic confirmation message as soon as payment is accepted. This will show customers that you can be trusted and give them confidence that their information has gone to the right place.
Why would this benefit your small hotel?
An online payment gateway is necessary for any type of hotel, regardless of its size.
Today's travelers prefer to book accommodation online - and you need to make it as easy as possible for your guests to book rooms at your B&B.
What should you look for in an online payment gateway?
As a small hotel operator, you need several features in an online payment gateway:
- Consistent and reliable service
The experience of processing an online payment should be easy for your guests. They don't even have to know that an online payment gateway is in use.
It is essential that you are working with a gateway that connects to and works properly with your booking engine.
You want your customers to be able to book their rooms in your hotel without encountering any issues during the online payment process.
This is of the utmost importance when it comes to choosing an online payment gateway.
A study conducted by Trustwave's SpiderLabs showed that out of 218 data breach investigations in 24 countries, 38% of the attacks were against hotels and, of the data stolen, 98% was credit card information.
Your guests trust you with their most personal and private financial information, and it's critical that you protect them at all costs.
It is not enough to have an SSL certificate on your website or to rely solely on third party payment services such as Paypal or Google Checkout to manage the security of your customers' credit cards. Every program you use should be securely locked.
Discuss data storage techniques with your online payment gateway to ensure that your valuable customers' information will be safe and secure.
It is essential to have a positive working relationship with the support team of the online payment gateway you choose.
They should be available to help you in the event of an unforeseen circumstance or problem.
People all over the world will want to book your rooms, especially when they can easily do so online.
Choose an online payment gateway that will convert any currency without charging you excessive fees to do so.
Install cybersecurity measures
Cybersecurity is the technology, processes and practices designed to protect networks, computers, programs and data from unauthorized access.
Here are some essential tips for businesses to reduce the risk of a data breach:
1. Prevent malware from attacking your computer by keeping your software up to date
A good method is to use Internet (cloud) technology instead of updating software programs on multiple computers. With cloud technology, you only need one connection to the application and your data will be systematically backed up.
Since cloud-based vendors automatically back up and update their system, the need for expensive hardware and the worry of losing important customer information during difficult installations will be eliminated.
2. Use unique passwords and access
Creating different users and distributing access levels for each employee will reduce the possibility for a hacker to take control of your system. Managing employee access also makes it easier to track user activity and restrict access to certain areas.
For example, your PMS should allow you to choose between “User” or “Supervisor” and implement two-factor authentication for sensitive information. This adds a high level of security to your front desk system and the customer information it stores, limiting access to only your necessary employees.
Remember: Remember the six expert tips described in the video at the start of this article.
This curious query raised many more. Namely, ' What have you done to your pants that necessitates the application of boiling water ? ', ' Are you too dense to realise that putting your knickers in the sink and then pouring on the boiling water is far more logical ? ' and ' Have I drunk tea from a kettle that was used to clean somebody’s Y-fronts ? '
Medical experts even weighed in. Dr Heather Hendrickson, a Senior Lecturer in Molecular Biosciences at Massey University in Auckland, said : ' It is super super super super gross. ' That’s actually the scientific term. She added : ' Your friend is unlikely to have a large number of highly heat resistant pathogens in his dirty undergarments but we do not know what he does have in there or how sick he might be. ' Oh, there’s definitely something not right.
While Telegraph Travel cannot conceive an occasion when stuffing your briefs inside a kettle will pay off, there are many other devious, less disgusting ways to take advantage of the items found in most hotel rooms.
Better than boiled underwear is a boiled egg. And a kettle could do the travail if you’d rather not fork out £15 for an overpriced breakfast ( we’ve even heard of people using them to cook pasta ).
The cheese toastie on the room service menu costs £10. But a loaf of bread and a wedge of cheddar from the local supermarket only costs a few quid. Turn it into melted goodness using your handy in-room iron
They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch ? Not if you nab an extra bread roll, a little récipient of jam and a strawberry yoghurt from the breakfast buffer. Wrap it all up in a shower cap and you’ve saved yourself a tenner.
The British aren’t great when it comes to complaining ( Mrs Richards from Fawlty Towers being the notable exception ), but if you aren’t happy with your room, you’re entitled to say so - and to see the alternatives. Hotels, especially older ones, come in all shapes and sizes, so you might be given a better boudoir. If the hotel isn’t full you might even be get upgraded.
There’s nothing worse than curtains that don’t close properly - they guarantee an unwanted early wake-up call at the crack of dawn. So use a clothes hanger with clips to pin them together.
No in-room speakers ? Put your phone in a mug or glass to dramatically improve the sound quality of your tunes.
Isn’t it incredibly annoying when you want to shave/admire your pretty face after a hot shower but have to wait a good 10 minutes for the mirror to de-mist ? Yes. Yes, it is. Well, free yourself from the shackles of mirror fog. Before you shower ( maybe the night before ) liberally rub a portion of the mirror with a bar of soap. Then take a dry washcloth and buff the soap off. This will keep the mist from condensing on the mirror. And one soaping will last a few days.
Forgotten the plug adapter for your iphone charger ? You could ask to borrow one from reception. Or be really self-sufficient and use a USB port in the back of the TV to charge your device.
Staying in an inner city hotel and wary about someone breaking into your room ? Hang your Do Not Disturb sign on the door and give the figure that you’re still inside having a snooze.
' Consider the unmanned housekeeper’s trolley a smash and grab situation. Pack your bags full of almond butter hand cream and guava face soap with espresso crisps. Take three of everything and get the hell out of the hallway. Even if you do get caught, just say you were out of shampoo, or, even better, out of toilet paper, and thought you’d save them the trouble by grabbing it for yourself. Think of it this way : these amenities are here for you, they are yours. We are in no position to dispute the claim that when you wash your hair you prefer to dump fifteen bottles of lavender and poppy seed shampoo all over your scalp like some gooey shower freak. '
And, if the room doesn’t come with conditioner, or you’ve forgotten your phone charger, just ask at the front desk. Hair products, deodorant and phone chargers are apparently the items most often left behind by guests, so the hotel might have a box of each - but ask nicely.