Study reveals that the hotel sector in Mexico is the hardest hit by cyber attacks

Study reveals that the hotel sector in Mexico is the hardest hit by cyber attacks
Study reveals that the hotel sector in Mexico is the hardest hit by cyber attacks

According to the study Cybersecurity in Mexico conducted by the Internet Association in Mexico (AIMX) and the Council of Data and Emerging Technologies (Cdetech), around 19% of 257 companies surveyed last year reported having suffered a cyberattack that affected their income. Likewise, the sector that received constant cyberattacks last year was Tourism with a percentage of 50.4%, according to data from Innovation in Cybersecurity and Digital Identity (IQSEC).

The industry faces challenges that increase the sector’s vulnerability, such as high employee turnover, significant reliance on technology systems, large amounts of data (including payment card details), many connected devices and a traditional lack of robust security policies.

“All of this is enhanced by the highly connected nature of the sector. The industry has been updating itself to the point of automating and digitizing processes that were originally done manually and analogously, from reservation confirmation, payments, access, security, marketing, customer service, loyalty programs, among others. There are many “interaction points” in the business, which significantly increases the risk,” said Mario Ortiz, director of Damage Specialties at Lockton Mexico.

Financially motivated cyberattacks often target a company’s core operations, i.e. HR, payroll, finance and corporate systems. While this risk is also present in the hospitality sector, the potential damage is much more far-reaching due to the large amount of sensitive and confidential personal information.

Data is particularly vulnerable in free trade and particularly valuable in the dark market. The global dissemination of private and confidential information only increases the susceptibility and the resulting risk for the sector.

“As a result, both credit card fraud and identity theft are high on the list of cyber threats for the hospitality industry. Fraudsters use compromised card data to make online purchases (often of high-value goods or services), while identity fraud involves using a person’s stolen information or profile to obtain credit or other benefits,” said Mario Ortiz.

Other cyber threats prevalent in the hospitality sector include:

1.Ransomware: Malicious software designed to take information hostage, criminals use it to threaten to publish sensitive information unless a ransom is paid. Another type of ransomware can block access to a computer network until the attackers are paid.

2. Denial of service attacks: These are designed to make a network unavailable by disrupting computer services and rendering them unusable. Seemingly harmless devices (security cameras, temperature gauges, and others) can be hacked remotely, causing computer networks to collapse.

3. Phishing: This is a widespread practice that involves sending emails that appear to come from a trusted sender, but which actually come from a cybercriminal. These emails take various forms, but a sophisticated level of deception is the common denominator of this type of attack.

According to the latest Phishing by Industry Benchmarking Report 2019 for large organizations with 1,000 or more employees, hospitality companies have the highest percentage of “phishing-prone” employees, at an alarming 48.4%.

4. “DarkHotel” attacks: involve using a hotel’s Wi-Fi through falsified digital certificates to access victims’ computers.

5.Point-of-sale attacks: installation of malicious software on point-of-sale devices such as restaurants and bars in hotel chains.

“These events have significant implications for the industry. The financial losses to both the company and third parties in dealing with data breaches, including non-compliance with regulations, can be high. In addition, the issues related to network disruption are critical. Business interruption losses and additional expenses can quickly accumulate when updating reservation systems and databases. Furthermore, in such a competitive sector where customer loyalty is important, the reputational damage caused by business disruption has a negative impact on brand image,” says Mario Ortiz.

Lockton recognizes that virtually all companies in all industries face a cyber threat due to the growth of technology implementation in business, through extensive local and global market knowledge across a broad spectrum of industries, Lockton supports its clients to obtain specialized solutions on the best market terms according to the specific needs of each client.

Within the hospitality sector, from hotel and restaurant chains to travel and tourism companies, healthcare and sports companies, and entertainment venues, Lockton recognizes the unique vulnerabilities of each client, creating a solution specific to each company.

“We cannot overstate the importance of implementing a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy for the hotel industry. It is vital to strengthen the company’s systems to protect activities, customers, reputation and income. We recognize that there is still a lot to cover, since most of the investment hotels make in insurance is usually intended to protect against catastrophic risks, leaving aside the cybersecurity part. However, it is a priority that they must also take into account as it is such a vulnerable sector that handles a large volume of third-party information,” concluded Mario Ortiz.

Fountain. Lockton

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