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As we examine and develop new strategies for the changes that we can expect to see in the hospitality industry post-crisis, we are also starting to envision the world beyond the pandemic and to the new normal of radically shifted travel consumer expectations and preferences. The probability of guest technology expectations worldwide significantly changing becomes high as guests prefer a more touchless and fully mobile-enabled hospitality experience post-COVID-19. The future of hospitality has always been mobile–but COVID-19 will accelerate this trend from a nice-to-have to a must-have for hoteliers.

When it comes to leadership today, how do you stay ahead of the competition? How do you innovate in your niche? How can your team think differently when most people hold on tightly to what they know? To have a competitive advantage, it’s all about keeping your eye on the future and looking for opportunities.

Much is unknown as to when, how fast, and how the hotel industry will recover from the coronavirus pandemic. Never has there been more uncertainty around what capabilities and processes hotels will need, when they will need them, or how technology should support them.

The introduction of Instagram Stories and their real-time, ephemeral content has significantly altered the course of our social media experience, especially for the hospitality industry. Since its launch, Instagram Stories have become an integral tool for content discovery, a sense of welcome and comfort, platform engagement and deeper storytelling. With more than 500 million daily active users, Instagram Stories continue to draw in more brands, hungry consumers, and content creators.

Having been brought up in the world of hotelling, and with family and close friends who remain in the space, the last few months have served as the disruption that none of us asked for, but one that nonetheless forced us to pause for perhaps the first time in many years.



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POODLE: A Major Threat or Call to Action?

10/23/2014
by David Durko

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


David Durko is the CEO of Security Validation a leading managed data security and privacy firm servicing the hospitality industry.

 
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