Tips to Keep Your Guest’s Data Safe

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Data Security

Cyber security has been hot in the news this last year, with big firms including TalkTalk and Sony even being hit. And if these global corporations have been hit, what’s to stop your systems being next? Granted, as a hotel your business is probably not at risk of exposing tens of millions of consumer credit cards, but you still need to make data security a priority, as it’s not impossible for you to suffer at the hands of hackers.

In 2015, Hilton Hotels identified that malware had been installed on an undetermined amount of payment terminals. The malware stole names, credit card numbers, security codes and expiration dates. All transactions through the property’s restaurants, bars, gift shop, and front desk were put at risk.There are several things you can do though, to protect your guests and yourself from a costly data breach.Stop using Excel .Many hotels are probably still quite comfortable using Excel to store customer data, particularly if you’re fairly small. Well, unfortunately you need to stop this right away – especially if you’re using it to track and manage payments.Credit card numbers should never be stored in full on a document that can be easily saved somewhere else and taken. While it is possible to password protect a spreadsheet, you cannot encrypt it and anyone could read the information.

Even though you’re not keeping the information online, it’s easily accessible by a virus or hacker – so you need to keep it protected.Secure your server. You want to know that the company you’re choosing to host your website and website design is reputable and has security measures in place.

In addition, you should install plugins that help to protect it further.Since you need to be able to upload items to your website through the content management system, the company can’t guarantee to protect against malicious files or a virus placed on this system.

As such, the plugins will offer that extra layer of protection.Encrypt your data. The best and easiest way to encrypt your website and protect yourself is to use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) security. An SSL certificate creates an encrypted connection between a web server and a browser, binding together the domain name, server name/hostname, and an organisation’s identity and location. This helps to keep user sessions safe and also encrypts sensitive data like credit cards when users make purchases.Use a payment processor Being a hotel, you’ll obviously take a large amount of payments online. This means you should be using a payment processor, as it’s the safest and easiest way to conduct online transactions.This acts as a relay between you and a bank which connects all credit card issuing banks. Payment processors use SSL to encrypt data during the entire purchase process, keeping both you and the consumer safe from any potential cyber threats.As well as being extremely safe, these systems are extremely efficient. They allow people to make purchases 24/7, reduce paperwork, and help you create reports. In addition, they can gather all the transactions and present them in a manageable format.

Change your passwords frequently .It may seem like an obvious thing to do, but you’ll be surprised how many people and businesses rarely change their passwords. You and your staff should be changing these at least once a month, and passwords that guard access to sensitive information like names and credit card info at least once every six months.This makes it much more difficult for hackers to guess your password and access sensitive information.

Whether you think the information is sensitive or not, you’ll want to stay on top of this, because otherwise you’re still at risk of cyber attacks.Use a PMS the best way to migrate from unsafe operating methods such as pen and paper and Excel is to use a property management system (PMS). A cloud-based PMS encrypts all the data that is inputted online, with many also allowing you to set user permissions. Administrators can then control who has access to sensitive information.Most PMSs connect to payment processors that add another layer of security to credit card transactions. This ensures that yours and your guests’ details are safe. Not only will a PMS keep your property safer, it will increase efficiency and give you peace of mind.

So, to make sure that you really are keeping data safe, you should follow these tips. If you’re ever unsure or need further advice, then you should speak to a professional who will point you towards the best services and platforms that are currently in the market.Also, make sure you keep all of these systems up to date to ensure ongoing protection.