Why Are Hotels Home to Some of the Most Serious Cyberattacks?

2 min read

Nazia Förster | June 28, 2023

The hospitality industry prides itself on offering personalized experiences to its guests. To facilitate these experiences, however, hotels, resorts, and cruise ships collect personally identifiable information (PII), from mobile phone numbers to driver’s license numbers. All this PII data makes hospitality providers a desirable target for cybercriminals that profit from re-selling this data on the dark web or holding it hostage via ransomware.

There have been several high-profile cases that highlight the security challenges that the industry faced in the last year:

  • In May 2022, the Shangri-La hotel chain, which operates over 100 properties worldwide, was the victim of a targeted cyberattack that stole guest data from eight hotels across Asia.
  • In July 2022, the Allison Inn & Spa, a luxury resort in Oregon, was hit by a ransomware attack that exposed data from 1,500 employees and 2,500 guests on the public Internet.
  • In September 2022, InterContinental Hotels Group suffered a cyberattack that caused two-day outages to its online reservation and loyalty account systems.

Hospitality and Security Go Hand in Hand

No business can afford to lose the confidence of its customers, but lost confidence comes at an even higher cost in an industry where customers expect to be as secure as they are in their homes. Yet the reality is that hospitality providers must do many things behind the scenes to deliver that level of security. Cybersecurity includes preventing data breaches from outside the corporate network (including data stored in the cloud) and protecting guests from man-in-the-middle attacks and other forms of phishing and espionage when using the property’s Wi-Fi network.

Then there is the physical security of guests, which can be enhanced through digital keycards and IP-based security cameras. Real-time security during emergencies is another critical consideration, involving everything from real-time text alerts to ensuring that 911 services work in every room or location. Finally, there is the simple right to private communications, from encrypted voice calls to messages immediately erased when a guest checks out.

What to Look for in a Hospitality UC Solution

Hotels, resorts, and cruise ships have a lengthy security checklist that is constantly being reviewed and updated as new threats and security technologies arise. While no single vendor can address all those security touchpoints, it’s essential to partner with companies that are vigilant in bringing the latest security technology and compliance requirements to bear on their solutions. When you choose unified communications (UC) and voice solutions, whether a single phone or a complete UC platform, you should be assured that those solutions meet the most stringent security standards for the hospitality industry.

The best solutions meet the compliance requirements for both Kari’s Law, which mandates that every multi-line telephone system (MLTS) can easily make 911 calls from any phone, and the Ray Baum Act, which ensures that location information such as room number is passed on to emergency dispatchers during a 911 call. During emergencies, a mass notification messaging solution supporting real-time alerts via multiple possible outlets (desktop messaging, email, text, billboard signage, paging, voice-activated loudspeakers, mobile or SIP-DECT) keeps guests and staff safe and informed.

While handling emergencies is essential, getting the little things right is equally vital for a strong security posture. Most cyberattacks and data breaches are the results of little things that were overlooked, from outdated software to setting up weak security passwords. Software assurance enables hospitality customers to take advantage of the little things, whether software updates, security patches to cyber threats, or automatically removing voice messages from the phone system when guests leave the property.

The hospitality industry faced more than its share of challenges in the last few years. As guests return, hotels and cruise ships must deliver great experiences to them. If guests don’t feel safe, they won’t be comfortable.

Learn how Mitel's hospitality solutions provide guests and staff with a comfortable and secure communications experience. >

Categories: Product News, Industries

Nazia FörsterSenior Product Marketing Specialist, SMB and Hospitality

Nazia joined Mitel’s Product Marketing team in 2021. With eight years of copywriting, sales, and marketing experience in healthcare and hospitality, she currently manages the hospitality and SMB markets within the product marketing organization at Mitel. She supports her team with written and visual content creation. Nazia is multilingual and has a Master of Arts from the University of Antwerp.

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