Tourism re-opens across the whole of the East of England this week and what better time to celebrate a diverse and exciting sector, as the tourism industry starts to re-open after lockdown. Yet it comes with a strong warning from the Eastern Cyber Resilience Centre (ECRC), which is advising businesses to stay safe this summer due to the rise in cybercrime.
The Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2021 reports that 39% of business in the last 12 months have reported cyber security breaches or attacks. And with English tourism making up 80% of the UK’s visitor economy, it certainly looks like there’s plenty of scope for cyber criminals to do their worst.
More than £7,316 million was spent across the East’s tourism industry in 2019, and with hopes that the figure will increase this summer, Detective Superintendent Paul Lopez is the director for the ECRC, and advises tourist operators that improving their cyber resilience is now more imperative than ever to keeping their business safe.
Paul said: “Organisations working in tourism, leisure as well as hospitality are increasingly becoming targets of cybercriminals and in fact, face a unique set of challenges compared to other sectors.
“Hotels, for example, provide a huge scope of opportunity for attacks, as vast amounts of data is constantly being collected. Whether it’s highly sensitive and valuable information on their customers, to managing large supply chains and financial transactions, any vulnerability in software systems is what these criminals are looking to sabotage.”
And it’s not just hotels, millions of people will be making their bookings online and entrusting their personal information and payment details to private holiday-letting providers, holiday parks, guest houses and many more tourist hotspots. It is therefore crucial these SMEs have cybersecurity measures in place to not only protect themselves but also their customers’ details.
Businesses are encouraged to join the organisation to improve their cyber resilience and awareness, with free core membership offering regular cyber updates and hint and tips such as the following recommendations from Detective Superintendent Lopez:
Back up your data regularly and keep it separate from main systems
Use strong and unique passwords and avoid using the same one for multiple accounts
Enable two-factor authentication to make it impossible to get into an account with a password alone
Check all devices (including mobiles) have been installed with the latest software updates
Secure your Wi-Fi network
Invest in cyber security training sessions for you and your staff
Keep auditing your security practices