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People today expect to be connected always and everywhere; sometimes it’s hard to believe that there was a world before smartphones and Wi-Fi. In the time since Wi-Fi became ubiquitous in hotels, apartments, and public spaces, it has fueled the evolution of connectivity in a lot of ways. Just like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the most basic needs start at the bottom, and you can’t get to the next level without a strong foundation. 

By now, everyone is aware that hotel giant Marriott International announced on Friday a massive data breach that goes back more than four years and may have affected up to 500 million customers worldwide. 

After two years of preparation, the FlyZoo Hotel — a futuristic property that uses interactive technologies to do everything from greet guests to deliver room service — is ready for business. 

Mobile technology is fast becoming central to the entire travel experience. Consumers are increasingly using their smartphones to research trips, book accommodation, check in at the airport, and access their hotel room. But one of the next big roles mobile has to play in the travel process is mobile payment. The idea of an entirely cashless society might still seem some way off, but mobile payment is gaining popularity. As it becomes more widely used, its fast and frictionless nature will bring benefits before, during and after a trip. 

Digital marketing, also known as internet marketing, plays a significant role to boost hotel website traffic and online bookings. Recently, many big announcements were made in the digital industry, for example when Facebook introduced a new video format for marketers, or when Google announced a board core algorithm. If you are a new hotelier and want to stay ahead in the industry, then you should know what’s going on in the hotel digital marketing industry. 
 



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New POS Threat - Onsite Assessment vs. Check the Box

08/09/2016

Last week a new hacking device that threatens many POS and door lock systems circulated like wildfire. We have been fielding a large number of calls from clients and prospects asking questions about the story and the risks to their properties.

The reality is if this tool becomes generally available the threat landscape will expand significantly for hoteliers. The tone of our calls was somber since this is yet another risk our clients have to face. It also shines on the painfully slow rollout of EMV across all of the name brands (mag stripe vs. chip and pin).

The bright spot that came from our calls was a general agreement that having a data security firm perform an on-site assessment that includes interviewing, training and raising the overall awareness of the staff makes the property a little more secure. Certainly much more secure than a property that simply performs a “check-the-box” exercise. It also put a spotlight on the PCI controls that are often missed by hotels. Logging firewall activities, logging of OS and applications, file integrity monitoring, pentesting, vulnerability management and more.

If this hacking tool makes its way into the wild it will be difficult to prevent an attack.  But assessment, awareness and management of cardholder systems could help mitigate the risks.  At the end of the day an onsite assessment trumps “check the box.”      

Data theft is a constant concern for hotels, but a new tool developed by a security researcher may raise the alarm on physical security in hospitality. Weston Hecker, a security researcher with Internet security company Rapid7, modified existing technology to create a device capable of reading and duplicating hotel keycards, and is even capable of guessing every room’s key across a property.  The device was designed by altering the MagSpoof tool developed last year by hacker Samy Kamkar. At the time of its development, MagSpoof was able to wirelessly read magstripes off of cards used for door entry or payment transactions by producing a magnetic field similar to a mag stripe when swiped, storing card data for later use.

Hacker’s modification only adds $6 worth of hardware to the MagSpoof, and allows a hacker to take the information from any key, which includes encoded information regarding guestroom numbers and checkout dates, and then guesses the correct information to create a copy. The device can then run through every possible combination of these details before letting the user into a room.  While hotel door locks continue their shift to radio frequency identification and Bluetooth technology and away from magstripes, it remains to be seen how this device would be used to access rooms under these circumstances. However, not all hotels have fully upgraded past magstripes, making them more vulnerable than ever to entry. At the same time, while credit card companies are shifting to chipped cards and card readers, magstripes still remain a popular option for travelers meaning point-of-sale systems could become a larger target. Hacker’s tool can inject keystrokes into a PoS system with a magstripe reader simply by being placed near it, forcing the reader to accept data as long as it remains within a few inches.

About The Author
David Durko
CEO
Security Validation, LLC


David Durko is the CEO and chief compliance officer for Security Validation’ Data Security Advisory Practice. Security Validation provides PCI and GDPR Assessment Services along with Virtual Data Privacy Officer services from its offices in the U.S. and U.K.

 
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