Man using a laptop in an airport.

Stay Safe on the Go: Your guide to keeping your data safe while travelling

In the heart of London, a major hotel chain faced a digital nightmare. Marriott Hotels, a name synonymous with luxury and hospitality, fell victim to a cyber attack that reverberated across the globe.

As a North London IT services expert, I understand the urgency of safeguarding your business. Let’s dive into the lessons learned from this incident.

The Marriott Data Breach: A Costly Wake-Up Call

In October 2020, the UK’s data privacy watchdog, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), imposed a hefty fine of £18.4 million on Marriott Hotels for a massive data breach. This breach potentially affected up to 339 million guests.

What went wrong?

The Attack Timeline: A Silent Intruder

The cyber attack began as early as 2014, targeting the Starwood Hotels group. Marriott later acquired Starwood, unknowingly inheriting a lurking threat.

Until 2018, the attacker had unrestricted access to all affected systems, including sensitive data. The breach compromised:

  • Names
  • Contact information
  • Passport details
  • Arrival and departure information
  • VIP status, and
  • Loyalty program numbers

The Fallout: Operational Chaos and Financial Loss

The attack disrupted Marriott’s operations:

  • Managing reservations became a manual process.
  • Hotel room doors were unlocked manually.
  • Point-of-sale (POS) systems in restaurants and shops were affected.

The estimated cost of this breach exceeded a staggering million dollars. Additionally, the ICO found Marriott in violation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

When a network is compromised, unless you have high-grade tools to protect you, every device you connect to is put at risk.

When you’re traveling, it’s important to treat everything like a risk to ensure your safety. In this blog, we’re sharing a couple of tips to keep you safe when you’re on the road for work or even on holiday this summer.

Lessons for Small Business Owners - No Business Is Immune

Marriott’s size and reputation didn’t shield it from attack, not to mention the resources it has looking after its systems. Even giants can fall; vigilance is key.

Some small business owners erroneously believe they are too small to be a target. However, small businesses are often targeted precisely because they have fewer cyber defences in place. Small business owners must prioritise cyber security.

The Perils of Public Wi-Fi: Secure Travel Technology for Your Peace of Mind

When travelling, public Wi-Fi networks are a hotspot for cyber threats.

Our advice? Avoid them. Use your phone’s hotspot or ensure your devices have professional-grade cyber security tools installed.

It’s not just about securing your data; it’s about safeguarding your business’s future.

Auto-Connect: Convenience at a Cost

Auto-connect features may seem handy, but they’re a gateway for hackers.

We recommend disabling this feature and connecting only to trusted networks. It’s a simple step that can prevent complex problems.

Empowering Your Team: Training for Secure Travel Technology

If you travel for work or have employees who travel for work, it’s important that all work devices have professional-grade cyber security tools installed on them. You don’t want to send your sales team to a hotel-hosted trade show, and instead of bringing back a list of leads, they bring back malware that could shut down your company altogether.

You should also provide comprehensive training on secure travel technology, ensuring your employees are aware of the risks and how to mitigate them.

The Final Word: Don’t Be the Next Target

No two businesses are the same, which is why we offer customised IT solutions. Whether you’re in law, finance, or any professional service, we understand your unique needs and how to meet them.

Without proper security measures, you’re not just at risk; you’re a target. But fear not, we’re here to help.

We’re offering a FREE 20-minute discovery call to assess your needs and discuss how we can secure your business against digital threats.

Don’t wait for an attack to happen. Secure your peace of mind today.

Read our latest insights

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *