Wireless Networking Data Theft – A Reality Even 5-Star Hotels Can’t Ignore

A recent string of cyber-attacks have proven that not even the most luxurious hotels are safe from hackers. Moreover, the most expensive hotels seem to be the preferred targets.

This has proven that wireless networking, as useful as it is, isn’t necessarily always safe.

Let’s take a look at a few of these cybercrimes and see how they can be avoided in the future.

The “loyalty points” thieves

Five months ago, a group of hackers got into the computer network of a New Delhi-based international 5-star hotel chain and awarded themselves “loyalty points” used by the hotels to reward frequent guests.

They used the points to buy air tickets and then sell them to unsuspecting people at half the original price.

The crime would have gone unnoticed if a guest hadn’t called the hotels to change visiting dates. That’s when the staff saw what had happened. Thankfully, four people connected to the hacking were caught in December.

This was not a sophisticated hack either, the hotels didn’t prioritize security when it came to wireless networking and the criminals took the opportunity. The hackers couldn’t have done it if the hotel had invested more into security, instead of relying on basic protection.

The worst part is that this crime was only discovered by chance.

The DarkHotel epidemic

DarkHotel is the name of a malware campaign specifically designed to infect hotel networks and steal as much data as possible. The virus disguises itself as a system update and, once it’s downloaded, it infects and spreads to as much of the network as possible.

In December, Hyatt International reported that they found the virus in the customer payments system. Several properties in different parts of the globe were hit and a big part of their portfolio was affected.

DarkHotel isn’t a new thing. The first attacks were actually noticed in 2007. Much more potent now, DarkHotel has become a BogeyMan of sorts for hotels. Wireless networking can be dangerous. That’s why you should upgrade your equipment and software as often as possible.

You should also be on the lookout for anything suspicious. If you follow this advice, you’ll be much safer.

False WiFi networks

During an investigation at another New Delhi-based five star hotel, a cybercriminal was found providing free WiFi access inside the hotel. That sounds innocent at first, but the network’s name was just a misspelling of the hotel’s name.

Unsuspecting guests could connect to the network thinking that it’s the official one and then they’d become vulnerable to all sorts of personal information and data theft.

This kind of crime can easily be stopped by the staff. The important thing is to teach them how to recognize possible cyber-attacks and how to stop them when they happen.

How to be safe when providing wireless networking

After these cyber-attacks gained quite a bit of attention, hotels finally started taking security more seriously. The industry experts say that more and more tech-heavy operations for their loyalty programs and check-in systems can be major security liabilities.

We recommend that you upgrade your security software if possible and build a comprehensive cyber protection program that addresses the specific cyber and data leakage risks prevalent in the hospitality sector. Hotel chains have also started looking for insurance covers to protect them from cybercrimes.

The easiest solution to the growing security problem is working with a professional guest WiFi company such as Airangel. This ensures protection without sacrificing user experience and functionality.

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