Hacked Hotel Entry System Highlights Meetings Security Fears

Where there is data, there is cash – at least that’s true from the perspective of a hacker. With technology and connectivity on the rise, the opportunity for exploitation of data is rife. A recent hijacking of a hotel’s electronic key entry system highlights a new vector of attack for fraudsters and a continual security threat for venues and eventprofs alike.

Earlier this month, hackers targeted the Romantik Seehotel Jägerwirt hotel, Austria by taking control of the electronic key system used for guest room entry. The hackers demanded a ransom (in bitcoin, obviously) to return control to the hotel. The hotel duly paid the ransom, equivalent to around $1,600 at the time. Thanks to fail-safes in the key system, nobody was either locked in or out of their rooms but the hotel was unable to issue new key cards for a day. Perhaps unsurprisingly, after a successful first attempt, the hackers tried again but the hotel staff were quick to take their systems offline. Perhaps there’s a lesson to be learnt here. Don’t pay the ransom. The hotel has since announced that it will mitigate future security threat by returning to a traditional lock and key system.

Hacked Hotel Entry System Highlights Meetings Security Fears

Security Threat For Eventprofs And Venues

The threat of data breaches and cyber attacks is one that should be taken very seriously by event professionals and venues alike. With increasing demand for connectivity at events comes an increased risk of data breach. Is there security in place and if that security is breached, do you have a plan of action? The increasing trend towards improving the event experience also means that there is also an increase in other types of data capture, data which could be valuable to a potential attacker.

January 2017 has already shown that the war against cyber crime is being lost. With over 50 instances of either a cyber attack or data breach taking place in the first month of the year alone, 2017 is going to be a busy year for hackers. Anyone handling data should be vigilant.

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Not If But When

Event professionals need to react to this threat now. With a rise in cyber crime and a rise in opportunity within the event industry, it’s only a matter of time before you find yourself in the sights of a cyber attack or data breach. While it’s not a good idea to simply step down your security and give in, it’s safer to assume that whatever security you have in place could be breached. Taking steps to anonymize data where possible would be a way to potentially devalue your data, should it fall into the wrong hands. The new way to look at security is to assume that the worst will happen and have a plan in place for when it does.

Mission Critical Processes

The attack on the Austrian hotel was a prime example of what can happen if an act of electronic terrorism interferes with your mission critical processes. It’s important to bear this in mind when designing your event experience. Ensure that should the worst happen, you fail safe and fail secure.

In Conclusion

It’s no longer safe to assume that you’re too small or insignificant for anyone to care about. You might think your niche is safe but even you need to be vigilant. Your event is a gold mine of data and now is the time to make sure you’re doing everything you can to protect it.

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Julius Solaris
Editor, Julius Solaris

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