A Look at Cyber Security in The Hospitality Industry

Our Approach to Securing Information for Individuals and Clients.

Last month was National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and in honor of that, we wanted to share some insight on how we protect and secure our information from cyber threats. We spoke with Synergy’s Global Information Security and Infrastructure Officer, Mitch Christian, for his perspective on Synergy’s best practices, as well as his recommended tips and tricks, to protect confidential information online.

Q: Why is it important for Synergy to protect our information?

A: We pride ourselves on being client-focused at Synergy, and a critical component of that is protecting all client data. We have many DPAs (Data Processing Agreements) that we must sign when we work with our key clients. Keeping client information safe is critical to prevent a breach that would essentially take our company off the map very quickly. We use our security, and the investments we make in security, as an essential market differentiator that sets us apart within our industry. We have a dedicated team with about 30 years of IT experience and 15 years of security, which helps to guide us.

Q: What specific practices do we put in place to protect information?

A: We run everything off a cloud-based backend system, and all our technology is interconnected within that. They have heavy controls and layers of protection put in place to help control any threats. We’re also partnering with Wizard Cyber, and they investigate any suspicious activity through our systems. October is, as we know, National Cyber Security month, and we have been actively sharing tips and tricks which can be seen below with the Synergy team. As our team grows, we want to ensure each is properly trained on how to protect both individual and corporate information. We purchased a rigorous training platform that is required for all employees. 

A: We are working toward passwordless logins. Passwords are the number one way people experience a breach. We are working toward only using MFAs (Multi-Factor Authenticators) and rolling out the use of biometrics instead of passwords, which will constantly increase our security posture. Our goal is to move toward a point where there are no passwords. Privileged access, such as that of admins, will have higher-level systems put in place with secure log-ins, keeping our data and our clients’ data safe.

Q: What are basic tips for someone that does not understand how to be safe and secure while navigating the internet?

A: Number one – change your password A LOT. Do not use the same password for every account or platform. Make a unique password so that someone is not able to learn one password and hack all of your accounts. Pay close attention to who is sending you emails and information. At the end of the day, it all comes down to education and intuition. Be informed. If it doesn’t feel right based on the information you are given, go with that feeling. Many incidents that I have dealt with start with the person having a gut warning that something feels strange. In the same way that you are on guard when you are walking in an unfamiliar area, you should be on guard while searching the web and remain on high alert.

Q: Many phishing attempts include highly believable links. How can people assess the legitimacy of what is being sent to them?

A: Many email sites have programs put in place that helps identify spam. At Synergy we are personally putting into place layers that assess spam. Anything that comes through an email program should individually report the suspicious activity as phishing. It’s better to be safe when something does not feel right than to just say “meh” and fix it. Utilizing a link preview (hovering over a link with your cursor) can also be beneficial to help you determine what webpage a link will lead you to and if it is legitimate.

Tips for Staying Safe on the Internet:

– Use long, unique passwords

A strong password is typically at least 12 characters long. A complex password helps to secure your accounts and take the easy guessing out of a log-in. 

– Enable multi-factor authentication

Using multi-factor authentication (a unique one-time code or biometrics) can decrease the risk of being hacked by creating multiple layers to access an account. 

– Think before clicking

Internet threats will create believable and enticing links often offering an exclusive deal to convince internet users to click. Make sure to verify all links by hovering over them with your cursor to preview the link destination. 

– Maintain a clean machine

Make sure that all software installed on the technology you are using is current and updated to reduce your risk of cyber infection.

– Always be alert

Cyber security is a living, breathing thing that changes every day! There are always new attacks and ways to steal information. It’s a scary world out there but following these cyber safety measures will help you feel more secure as you surf the web.

So Why Is Cyber Security So Important to the Hospitality Industry?

There are always new attacks and ways to steal information. For example, in the last month, Synergy systems successfully avoided 3.2 billion security events. As part of the reservation process for fully furnished apartments, clients provide us with personal information to secure their reservations. Keeping our clients’ information safe and secure is our top priority, which is why so many Fortune 500 companies and individual travelers trust us with their information. Our team is constantly looking into new software and technology to keep our clients and our own information safe.