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The forces driving local search rankings are constantly changing. But recent studies suggest that in 2019, four key factors make up the local search algorithm. 
 
The most significant factor is Google My Business (GMB). If you’re not on it, get on it now.

The robotic revolution in the hospitality industry might seem to have taken a step back. This January, the famously quirky Henn-Na Hotel in Japan fired half of its 243 robot staff. The robotic workforce reportedly irritated guests and frequently broke down.

Think about the moment when you first enter your hotel room. Look around: Does the room tell you anything unique about the hotel where you are staying? Or is it all beige walls and double beds with white covers, and you have to walk back outside and look at the sign on the hotel’s facade to even remember where you are?

Hotel guests commonly bring multiple devices with them during their stay. However, many hotel environments don’t provide easy access to charging outlets. This situation can lead to a guest feeling more than inconvenienced. A recent survey found almost 90 percent of people "felt panic" when their phone battery dropped to 20 percent or below.

Spam is one of the major problems that most hotel website owners face on regular basis. It is a bad practice used by spammers to persuade the page rank of a site.



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End of Year Review: Data Breaches

12/17/2015

The numbers are in... this year (2015) the total number of data breaches reached 732, surpassing last year's total of 726 for the same time period, according to the San Diego-based Identity Theft Resource Center.  It is reporting more than 176 million records were exposed this year so far.  When you think that we still have two weeks to go before 2016, the trend does not augur well.

Some breaches have taken place in the hospitality and online travel space...the ones we hear about anyway.

One that may have flown under the radar is the breach at Sabre; the company acknowledged in early August that hackers had breached its GDS. Bloomberg, citing anonymous federal investigators, reported that the breach was part of the same set of Chinese-linked attacks that struck insurance carrier Anthem in February and the U.S. government's Office of Personnel Management in June.  The breach, Sabre said, involved servers managed by a third party. In its only public statement on the incident, the company also said it was not aware that any sensitive data had been compromised but was continuing to investigate.

In November, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide warned that malware designed to help cyber thieves steal credit and debit card data was found on point-of-sale cash registers at some of the company's hotels in North America. The disclosure makes Starwood just the latest in a recent string of hotel chains to acknowledge credit card breach investigations, and came just days after the company announced its acquisition by Marriott International.

Several other major hotel brands experienced a malware-driven credit card data breach. In October 2015, The Trump Hotel Collection confirmed a report about a possible card breach at the luxury hotel chain. (For more information on this case, please click here. And since misery loves company: both Mandarin Oriental and Hilton made the headlines as well.

Hilton is worth a deeper dive. A security flaw in Hilton's website allowed an attacker to access any Hilton HHonors account simply by knowing or guessing the account number. In this case, the vulnerability was particularly dangerous because Hilton didn't require logged-in users to re-enter their current passwords before choosing new ones. At that point, an attacker could do anything a legitimate account holder could do, including changing the account password, viewing past and upcoming reservations, accessing the account holder's personal information, and redeeming HHonors points for travel, hotel reservations or cash.  Granted, this is not like a credit card number breach, where the numbers can be used for purchases; rather, it's the account number and login that are being sold, which can then be translated into goods via online purchases. This created a lucrative opportunity for hackers, as they could now sell account access with greater appeal.

Whatever one takes away from this recap, one thing stood out: 2015 cemented the transition from stealing just card data to gaining access to credentials.  At some point we will see that the end game of any hack is to gain the ability to “steal things” digitally, and often the “thing” is the ability to become someone else, whether to gain benefits by cloning an identity or to become someone via their credentials – someone who can modify payroll, someone who can access a financial account and move funds, or someone who can convert data into merchandise that is sellable on the black market (think HiltonHonors breach). 

And, since POS systems seem quite often to be the easy way in, and simultaneously third parties are opening doors (think Target and Sabre), the position PCI DSS 3.1 takes on shared responsibility just drives home the attention one should give to protecting all points of entry including those you don't actually manage but can be the way in for those with malintent.

Te praesta capacem ad provocationem!

About The Author
Marion Roger
VP Business Development
Hospitality E Resources


Marion Roger, vice president of Hospitality E Resources (HER Consulting), is a specialist in the hospitality supply chain landscape who is currently leading an industry initiative to support guest data security and has developed a hotel-focused training curriculum on PII protection. With a speciality focus on electronic reservation systems, payment technology protection and data security, Marion is a regular on the speaker circuit and contributor to Hospitality Upgrade on these key topics.

 
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