Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

April 13 2015

The Serious Cyber Security Threat That Could Hurt Hotels

By Carolyn Clark

More hotels are offering free Wi-Fi to their guests, but it looks like those complimentary connections can come with the potential for serious costs. A new report from California-based security firm Cylance reveals a serious vulnerability in a commonly used Internet router that can be found at hotels around the world.

“Take it from us that this issue affects hotel brands all up and down the spectrum of cost, from places we’ve never heard of, to places that cost more per night than most apartments cost to rent for a month,” Brian Wallace, senior researcher, Cylance, wrote in a blog about the issue.

In some cases, Cylance found that the affected router, the ANTLabs InnGate, was integrated with the hotel’s Property Management System. This means that a hacker could find the way to the holy grail of data that includes everything from the property’s payroll system to guest credit card numbers to door-locking capabilities.

“It has the potential to impact millions of customers ranging from everyday vacationers and data center IT staff to tradeshow attendees and high priority targets such as government officials, corporate executives and CSOs,” the experts at Cylance wrote in a recent statement.

Wallace and Cylance worked to notify properties that could be impacted, and a new patch to fix the problem was released at the end of March. However, hackers are smart and aggressive. While businesses work to put the appropriate protections in place, online thieves are committed to finding ways around the fences.

SEE ALSO: Cyber-Security Basics For Your Meeting

The details of data security can be difficult to understand for anyone without an IT background. With terms like “unauthenticated rsync daemon” and “inbound TCP-DENY”, these reports often feel like they’re written in a different language. However, there is no translation necessary to recognize the devastation that hackers can create once they find their ways into private networks. From Target to Home Depot to Sony, some of the biggest brands in the world have been recent victims of online crime.

The meetings industry makes a prime target for hackers. As attendees move from their hotel rooms to the lobby to the convention center, many of their devices are set to connect to the first open Wi-Fi network available.

Are you doing enough to protect them and all the data at your meeting? Click here for an OnDemand session that will walk you through the steps to implement an advanced cyber security program. Get free access until 4/21 with the code: Cyber.

Also, look for a session on cyber threats and attacks during PCMA EduCon in Fort Lauderdale this June and through the hybrid livestream. 

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