Industry  |  28 January 2022  |  Eva Lacalle  |  4 minute read

What are the biggest security threats to hotel payments?

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Seeing as hotels handle a lot of sensitive information including credit card numbers, addresses, ID numbers and more, keeping this information safe is one of the most important duties of a hotelier.

The right hotel payment tool can limit security threats. Payments are a very important part of any successful hotel’s operations, and it’s important that you have a way of processing payments that’s secure for both your hotel and your guests.

Because there are many possible security threats to hotel payments and hotels are an interesting target for hackers, it’s important to understand what those potential threats are, so you can prepare your property and act in the best way possible in the face of a cyber attack.

In this article, we will look at how secure hotels payment systems are, as well as the most important security threats to payment systems.

 

How secure are hotel payment systems?

Safe hotel payment processing is key, and having a tool that maintains security as one of its top priorities is fundamental when choosing the right tool for your business.

When assessing how secure a payment system is, you need to keep in mind how property and guest data is stored, and the more automated the process, the better, because it reduces the risk of fraud, theft or manual errors. 

Security compliance and tokenization

Other ways of assessing whether a tool is secure is checking that it’s PCI, PSD2 and DSS compliant, which maintains the highest standards for the processing of electronic payments.

Tokenization is another important feature to look for because it ensures that raw data like credit card details do not remain in your payment system.

Fraud support

With a payment system like Mews Payments, should a fraudulent charge be made, you will have the support necessary to help handle chargebacks as well as help in defending claims.

Of course, fraud can happen, but the more secure your system is and the better the support you have should a fraudulent payment be made, the fewer chances you have of fraud negatively impacting your hotel.

Authentication and encryption

Another way of assessing how safe a payment tool is is whether it boasts end-to-end encryption and 3D Secure authentication.

This means that sensitive information is encrypted, and you can protect your business against fraudulent card payments with 3D Secure online transactions. These are both ways of ensuring that your hotel’s payment system is as secure as possible.

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The biggest security threats to hotel payments

Now that we have looked at just how secure are hotels’ payment systems, let’s take a look at some of the most important security threats to payments.

POS intrusions

A large majority of data breaches and security threats are caused by point of sale intrusions. That means hackers get into the POS and steal important data like credit card information and then go about using this credit card information for other purchases.

This is incredibly bad for a hotel’s reputation because it diminishes trust, and trust is one of the first reasons for loyalty; if guests don’t trust their sensitive information with your hotel, they won’t stay loyal.

Read more about hotel data breaches.

Encryption is not fail-proof

Yes, encryption is an important part of keeping your guest’s sensitive data safe, but you can’t over-rely on its security. It should be used as an integrated part of your cybersecurity policy, but not as a stand-alone solution.

Data encryption must be done using a safe type of encryption like end-to-end and 3D Secure authentication. 

Hacking on the cloud

Nowadays, many payment systems operate on the cloud. It’s important that when you store data on the cloud that you consider what data protection controls you are providing your guests, what data should not be shared on the cloud, how to get rid of sensitive data and who will be in charge of processing this data. 

Of course, with the right payment processing tool, even if the data is stored on the cloud, you will still have the protections and protocols in place to reduce the risk of hacking.

Phishing 

With phishing attempts becoming more sophisticated every day with targeted language, it can be all the more difficult to recognize a phishing attack, even to those who are in charge of authorizing payments.

The key is to make sure to ensure that any payment authorizations or accesses are carefully monitored so that you are not entrusting access or payments to people who you don’t recognize from within your organization. 

Attacks on apps

As more and more hotels design applications to move many operations online, including check-in and check-out and processing payments online, it opens up the door for attacks.

In order to prevent these data breaches, it’s important to regularly scan apps and review the code to ensure that the app is up-to-date with the latest security. 

Third party service providers 

With more and more hotels working with third party service providers to process payments, it opens up the opportunity for data breaches, which is why getting your third party providers vetted is key to preventing security threats to your payment systems.

As they are entrusted with sensitive information, it’s important to ensure that they are worthy of having access to this data. 

Mobile attacks 

With the omnipresence of mobile in the hospitality industry, mobile attacks are a likely target for security threats.

That’s why it’s important that all devices that have access to your hotel’s network and cloud are protected with two-factor authentication.

This is easier to control if your staff is using your hotel’s business mobiles, but if they are accessing anything from sensitive payment information to the payment system and PMS from their own mobile, it is especially important that they are being as safe as possible. 

Hold regular training and upskill your staff on cybersecurity. Have a plan of action in terms of mobile device management, and ensure that you track all devices accessing your network to avoid harmful data breaches. 

Conclusion

In this article, we’ve looked at how safe hotel payment systems are and the most common security threats. Understanding those threats is key to developing your cybersecurity plan, especially as it relates to your payment system, so that you can protect your hotel and your guests from an attack. 

With sensitive data being processed constantly at hotels – especially through your payment system – it’s important to choose a tool that has the security protocols built in so that you can be sure not to harm your hotel’s reputation with a security breach.

Once a guest entrusts you with their personal data, it’s important to protect this information, which ultimately encourages brand loyalty and repeat visits to your hotel.

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Eva Lacalle
28 January 2022

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