The tourism and leisure industry has always been an enticing target for cyber criminals due to the vast amounts of sensitive data of individuals it holds from payment details to date of birth and email addresses.
Large organizations including British Airways and Marriott have hit the headlines because of data breaches.
However, the pandemic has forced companies to adopt digital processes more than ever before.
Although these new ways of work, including online collaboration tools, have helped in facilitating remote working, they have simultaneously increased the potential risk of cyber attacks.
While the industry can expect business to increase as restrictions are lifted, the potential risk of cyber crime will also heighten.
Below we explore the top risks related to credential theft and insider threat and the actions that are highly effective in mitigating them.
Growing cyber security concerns
Phishing email: a tool which tries to tempt
Scammers have adopted a method called phishing with the intention of stealing online credentials such as passwords. Phishing has gained popularity because of its cost effective and hard to detect attributions. The emails from scammers contain links and attachments which are their passports toward the personal credentials of the individual.
Just one click on the link can let the scammers enter the private database of a business. It is imperative for businesses to be aware of these kinds of phishing emails.
One high profile example of credential theft is Marriott’s data breach which was facilitated by using login credentials of two employees resulting in access to the data of 5.2 million guests.
Insider threats: various types of insiders
Another challenge within the leisure sector is insider threat which has become a serious concern that can not be overlooked.
Signs of insider threat include activity at unusual times (late night logins), suspicious practices (accessing unusual databases) or transmission of data high in volume.
Moreover, to be aware of insider threats it is crucial to have an understanding of different types of insiders.
There are three main types of insider: Malicious insider, Compromised insider and Careless insider.
A malicious insider tends to steal information by abusing legitimate credentials for personal gain however a compromised insider is the one whose credentials have been compromised unintentionally and used by an attacker avoiding any security alerts.
A careless insider unintentionally practices common mistakes regardless of the security protocols of the company.
According to a 2020 report, the average global cost of insider threats increased by 31% in the last couple of years to $11.45 million, and the occurrence of incidents rose by 47% in that time.
In addition, the National Cyber Security Centre says 43% of cyber attacks are targeted at small businesses.
With the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, hotels and small travel and tourism businesses will be receiving online bookings.
Many people will entrust their payment and personal details to these businesses and adapting cyber security measures is for the good of both consumer and business.
Cybersecurity and COVID-19
During the pandemic, phishing attacks aiming to get access to personal information such as login credentials have dramatically increased.
These attacks have the sole purpose of credential theft.
Amidst the fear of the pandemic scammers have played on the anxiety of consumers subject lines of coronavirus and furlough in phishing emails.
In the post pandemic society when people are going on holiday the scammers can use the subject lines of “vaccination” and “COVID passports” which may prompt people to click on those fake links resulting in the theft of data.
Therefore, it is imperative to spread awareness about how scammers have been exploiting government schemes and social circumstances for their personal gains.
In the post pandemic landscape, with a rise in remote working and hybrid workspaces, organizations also need to take proactive actions such as implementing cloud based solutions to prevent a cyber attack.
The surge of online holiday bookings, at the time when the businesses are at the peak of adapting to new working models with their digital transformation, makes it imperative for businesses to adopt strict cyber security measures.
It is already clear from PwC’s Global Trust Insights Survey that employers have started to increase their budgets for cyber security because the pandemic has increased the likelihood of a cyber attack.
Businesses operating in the leisure and travel sector are advised to adopt cloud based solutions to protect their data.
It is here that Zero Trust Architecture comes into play, enabling companies to add an extra layer of protection on every login attempt.
This protocol trusts no actor who wants to access the data. It authenticates every single login attempt whether from outside or inside. The solution keeps track of the time and duration of the logins and interrupts the service in the case of a detected risk.
The architecture also allows organizations to keep track of the location of the actor who is accessing data with the time and duration hence avoiding any scenario of insider threat.
There is no doubt that hackers will keep on trying to attack however an end-to-end cloud based solution can serve as a powerful defence.
Looking at the past 18 months, there is no doubt that organizations have had to consider how they operate. With a ‘new norm’ of remote working the tourism and leisure industry will continue to be an attractive target for cyber criminals.
During a time of digital transformation, leisure and tourism companies should look to build cyber insurance policies into their security plans. This provides them with immediate support at the time of any crisis to help recover as much lost cost as possible.