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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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POODLE: A Major Threat or Call to Action?

10/23/2014

In the fast paced world of information security it seems that exploits outpace the fix resulting in the compromise of sensitive data. Security has always been a reactive discipline but maybe that is changing.  

In the case of POODLE, the latest in a list of highly publicized vulnerabilities the exploit appears to have been identified and corrective actions published before any significant damage could be wreaked. 

Identified and reported by Google researchers, POODLE affects the Secure Socket Layer (SSLv3) protocol and if exploited could allow information transmitted between computers and servers to be intercepted in an unencrypted form. Currently it seems that POODLE is not as serious as the Heartbleed bug, since an attacker needs to have a privileged position in the network to exploit POODLE. This type of attack falls into the man-in-the-middle category. Man-in-the-middle means that an individual needs to insert themselves between the computer and server in order to capture data. In other words the intruder would need to compromise your computer network before they could effectively take advantage of POODLE.

So what does this means for the hospitality industry? The challenge is that most brand booking sites are configured to meet the lowest common denominator in terms of security. This is done to accommodate the large permutation of users from around the world who use any number of web browsers with any number of security configurations and helps prevent users from being technically excluded from using the sites. The challenge this presents is that this also creates the greatest number of holes in the architecture and elevates the risk of using brand websites. We work very closely with many of the major brands and have it on good authority that they are already testing an appropriate fix. They assure us that they have the necessary controls in place to mitigate risks to the consumer. So that speaks to the larger global brands but what about the smaller regional chains and independent properties? These properties may lack in-house expertise or guidance to help assess and remediate vulnerabilities. So for these properties the biggest risk is in their inability to identify the technical challenges, lack of security surrounding their wireless infrastructure and the time it takes them to identify and patch key systems. Historically smaller organizations have been slow in identifying vulnerabilities, have no knowledge of how to secure wireless networks and have been even slower in remediating vulnerabilities.

What Businesses Need to Do

In order to mitigate risk of this bug or any vulnerability there are a few courses of action:

  1. Check to see if your web servers are vulnerable – there are a number of free tools available to audit your systems
  2. Use tools that support TLS_FALLBACK_SCSV, a mechanism that prevents attackers from forcing Web browsers to use SSL 3.0 – this will require verification of application compatibility
  3. Disable SSL 3.0 altogether, or disable SSL 3.0 CBC-mode ciphers – verification of compatibility
  4. Set your computer browser to only use TLS instead of SSLv3.0
  5. Patch systems when vendor security fixes are released.
  6. Regularly scan your Internet facing and internal systems for vulnerabilities.
  7. Run current anti-virus, anti-malware and firewall software.
  8. Change passwords frequently and do not use shared accounts.
  9. Follow the PCI Security Standards for Security Best Practices.
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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