7 hacking prevention methods for lodging and travel websites

Life preservers for your site

Having a perfectly running reservation website and management system is key to providing the kind of guest experience that helps a hotel or B&B business grow exponentially over time. In fact, most everyone makes their travel plans online, and it’s expected that your online systems are responsive and secured with the latest hacking prevention methods.

So, what happens when your travel business is subject to a cyberattack? Even the largest corporations have fallen victim to bad players, as the number of companies who have admitted to data breaches and malware scares has grown to include brands like Hyatt, Kimpton and the Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos.

It’s scary to think about, but important to consider before it happens.

Related: Understanding online security threats

Have a plan in place for customer response

It’s naive to think that you’ll never have to deal with an online attack, so plan what you’ll do when it happens. Your PR team should have a process established to respond to customer complaints right away, communicating what the hack involved and the steps you’ll take to make it right.

Saying you’re sorry is often the first of many wise mitigation choices.

Give your customers just enough information for them to know that there was a security risk, but don’t inundate them with technical details or give them more information than what would be wise for your own reputation. Acknowledge the error, then detail steps for moving forward.

Related: The small business owner’s guide to smart customer responses

Implement these hacking prevention methods

Don’t wait to get hacked to put these measures in place. They are standard for all industries — not just the travel niche.

  1. Install an SSL certificate.

  2. Use secure passwords.

  3. Keep admin privileges a privilege.

  4. Go with a trusted hosting provider.

  5. Keep WordPress up to date.

  6. Perform regular scans and checks.

  7. Leave website security to the pros.

If you are lacking any of the following security methods, take measures to get them in place right away.

1. Install an SSL certificate

This layer of protection, which stands for Secure Sockets Layer, provides a seamless and secure connection for your online guests. Setting this up with your web hosting provider doesn’t need to be difficult, and it’s recommended that you get SSL running on your site if you require your guests to input any of their personal data, from mailing addresses to credit card info.

Since most tourism and travel companies do ask for sensitive information, an SSL certificate is a must.

2. Use secure passwords

Hacking Prevention Methods Password
Photo: Christiaan Colen on Visual Hunt

Your employees and systems teams should all be using unique, highly secure passwords at all times. From email to intranet systems, no one should be using unapproved passwords that are easy to remember or on devices not approved for use at work.

To ensure that passwords are unhackable, use a password generator and change them often — every 30 days or so.

If you’re worried that employees won’t remember their passwords, use a secure password manager tool to recover them.

3. Keep admin privileges a privilege

Only the highest levels of management and select IT team members should be able to log in to your website as an administrator. Each should have their own unique password, so that you can see who is using the systems at the highest levels, at any time. Remind employees never to share passwords, and if a lockout occurs, take the issue to your IT team immediately. Continue to monitor website user permissions several times a day, if possible.

Related: Navigating WordPress user roles to maximize site security

4. Go with a trusted hosting provider

You should never entrust your company’s website to anything but a reputable, established hosting provider. With many small, fly-by-night companies out there, it can be tempting to try a new one for a lower price point. When it comes to making sure your website is fully functional and secure against the latest threats, however, this is something you should only leave to the professionals.

Related: How to find the best hosting company

5. Keep WordPress up to date

The most popular blogging and content management system is also a brilliant solution for hosting your travel products and services, but it’s not a one-and-done answer.

Take care to keep your plugins updated regularly and install security patches as soon as they have been released and tested.

Subscribe to WordPress communications to make sure you don’t miss a thing, and consider having your site hosting company handle your WP updates for you.

Hacking Prevention Methods Update

6. Perform regular scans and checks

New malware is created all the time, and the average systems user doesn’t even realize it! Doing a daily scan for malware, viruses and ransomware isn’t just advised, it’s industry standard. Make sure you are using a trusted malware detection and removal tool, like GoDaddy’s Express Malware Removal, and update it daily to make sure it’s picking up the latest threats in the scans.

Related: Why website monitoring is a must-have tool

7. Leave website security to the pros

In addition to those steps taken above, it’s wise to leave the security game to those who play it daily. Hospitality companies have so much to worry about as it is, from keeping guest rooms updated to ensuring a seamless check-in process.

Worrying about malware removal or data backups is something that can be easily outsourced to those who are well aware of the latest threats and are poised to handle them promptly and appropriately.

The best web security services are those you don’t have to think about, at all. Practice due diligence in choosing a hosting provider that can perform all of the recommended security tasks in one business-sized package.

Leaving your travel, hospitality or reservation website open to threats isn’t just lazy, it could be a liability for legal challenges. Companies who have been proven negligent in hacking attacks have been found guilty in civil suits and made to pay claims to the thousands of victims who suffered data loss or credit card fraud due to online threats. Partnering with a comprehensive web services provider is the easiest and most affordable method to mitigate loss and build your brand steadily over the lifetime of your company.