How to Hack-Proof Your Hotel

BOSTON—Criminals will always go after targets that are low risk, but offer a high reward, according to Paul Martini, CEO of iboss, a cybersecurity company.

“With the increasing connectivity and more valuable data being stored in the cloud, criminals see the opportunity provided by data breaches,” said Martini. “To add to that, it is incredibly low risk as they can obscure their identity and, depending on their location, there is very little risk of prosecution even if they are identified.”

In 2003, Martini and his brother and president/co-founder, Peter, launched iboss because they saw organizations spending a lot of money supporting legacy cybersecurity solutions like secure web gateway appliances in an attempt to retrofit them for today’s distributed organizations.

“This is simply unsustainable; it’s impossible for distributed organizations like hotels to utilize security solutions designed with the purpose of protecting a single location contained with a secure network perimeter,” said Martini. “We believe the industry needed a more suitable solution instead of the patchwork quality of ‘hybrid’ solutions other vendors offered. Some thought that moving to shared-cloud web gateways was the answer, but that led to increased costs to support all the data traveling back and forth to headquarters and expensive reconfiguration of the network. It was clear neither option adequately fit the needs of today’s distributed organizations.”

They realized bandwidth requirements would continue to increase exponentially as the world adapted to the new opportunities provided by mobile devices and cloud applications. With that in mind, the duo began developing a solution to a problem that didn’t exist yet.

“Fourteen years later, after lots of hard work and dedication to innovation, we have a solution backed by over 100 patents, and patents pending that fundamentally redefines the way security is delivered and managed,” he said.

There are a number of reasons why hotels are easy targets for data breaches, noted Martini.

Limitations. First, hotels are generally very distributed organizations with a large number of devices spread across many different properties that all offer a potential entry point for hackers. It is impossible to have a defined network perimeter for a large hotel chain.

Consequences. Because of their distributed nature, many hotels have moved to cloud-based technology solutions. The benefits of the cloud are clear but hotels need to understand the security ramifications and re-evaluate their cybersecurity strategy based on their new ecosystems.

Falling Prey. Lastly, many hotels are focused on investing in guest-facing technology and amenities that provide value to their guests, not on the back-end technology infrastructure. This is the ideal scenario for hackers who are very skilled at exploiting outdated infrastructure that most likely has not been patched to protect against the latest vulnerabilities and threats.

There are a few things hoteliers can do to make sure the data is properly secured:

A Clean Sweep. First of all, they need to be conducting proper cybersecurity hygiene. This is the case for every business, not just hotels … Things like regularly patching your systems, proper password and authentication policies, and employee training are the backbone of any cybersecurity strategy.

Shore Up Data. Once hotels have done the basics, they need to take steps to protect against ransomware by backing up all critical data outside of the regular network. Criminals won’t be able to extort hotels if they have a proper back-up system in place.

Find the Right Solution. Outside of that, hotels need to think about how their cybersecurity is delivered. The same strategies that were used five years ago will not be effective today. IT infrastructure has become extremely distributed and fragmented by cloud services. Hotels should focus on finding security solutions that have been designed to operate in those types of ecosystems.

The iboss Distributed Gateway Platform was designed specifically with distributed organizations like hotels in mind, noted Martini. It uses a node-based architecture that was built for the cloud, combining both cloud gateways and optional physical gateways.

“By leveraging the power of nodes, it provides access to a comprehensive cybersecurity solution including data loss prevention, advanced malware defense, and network behavioral analytics. Together these functions combine to prevent threats as they try to enter the network, identify suspicious behavior on the network, and prevent data loss,” he said.

The Distributed Gateway Platform is delivered as a 100% SaaS-based solution that doesn’t require any network architecture or hardware installation.

“The difference between the Distributed Gateway Platform and other solutions is that while it is cloud-based, we do not use multi-tenant clouds,” he said. “By leveraging our patented node-based architecture, each of our customers has their own non-shared cloud and remains in complete control of their data and update schedule.”