Cloud PMS – A Safe Bet for Security, Liability and Payments

There was an article in Yahoo news back in January about hackers that took not only the hotel but all of its guest’s virtually hostage. They did this by hacking the hotel’s property management system (PMS). Unfortunately, in most hotels, all technology is interdependent, and as such, they were able to lock the guests in their rooms, or out of their rooms as the door locks were integrated with the PMS Software. The hackers demanded cash, and they got it. Though this makes for an interesting news item, the ramifications of such a hack are far and wide.

In a report researched by Sky High Networks, the percentage of organizations that experience at least one threat per month from data exfiltration (hackers) is 49.8%. Over the last ten years, nearly 1 billion consumer records were stolen through data breaches in the United States.  That is a lot of hacking! As cloud usage continues to soar, we can rest assured that these percentages will increase. There are also several different types of attacks; these include Point of Sale intrusions, Denial of Service attacks, like the one mentioned above, and Insider and Privilege attacks, perpetrated by those who have rights within the systems.

Over the last ten years, nearly 1 billion consumer records were stolen through data breaches in the United States.  However, we are beginning to trust cloud-based solutions more and more every day. When you think of it, we use OneDrive, Salesforce, Skype for Business, Exchange online and Cisco WebEx without even thinking these are cloud solutions. We also pay online using personal credit cards on sites such as Amazon, eBay, and the list goes on and on. This does not mean that we must stay vigilant, it only means that people are becoming more and more comfortable working and transacting with POS solutions they cannot touch or feel.

In the hotel industry, we are lucky to have so many technologies to choose from and an even larger number of companies delivering these technologies to our industry. This, however, can make the decision process regarding the purchase of new technologies quite daunting. When looking for a property management system (PMS), which is the beating heart of your hotel, many variables must be considered. Feature/functionality ranks highest on the list, but security should be a very close second.

A cloud based PMS can be more secure that an on-promise based platform. One may not think so, but this is indeed the case. Most reputable cloud-based solutions use powerful encryptions. These encryptions are very strong and cannot be easily defeated. The trick is choosing the right multi-layered security approach for your hotel. Having a multi-layered approach ensures that there are many failsafe measures in place that will enhance the overall security of your guests and your hotel.

So below are some criteria that you should consider when looking for a robust a security conscious Cloud PMS.

Choose a Cloud PMS that:

  • Takes liability away from the hotel and to a large some extent from the PMS vendor by using tokenization – (this is where the PMS does NOT store or transfer any CC numbers)
  • Utilizes P2PE encryption – is a payment security solution that instantaneously converts confidential credit card data and information into the indecipherable code at the swipe of the card to prevent hacking and fraud.
  • Plans a switch to EMV or know as “chip and pin” outside of the US – this is the chip and PON technology used by many credit card companies and is being rolled out in the US

Ultimately you need to choose the best technology for your individual property. When you decide to switch to a new PMS, consider one that meets your current needs while addressing issues that may arise in the future. The future holds great innovation that will have a beneficial impact on the hotel industry, but it can also be intimidating and scary when that evolution is moving so quickly. But it doesn’t have to be. If we set the bar high enough and we’re using it to solve problems, technology is just a tool to personalize the guest journey and achieve a 360-degree view of the guest.

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