Data thieves target hotels and resorts
Travelers who book rooms on hotel websites could be vulnerable to data thieves
Los Angeles Times
Northwest Travel Guides
If you're a traveler who books hotel rooms via the Internet, you may be at higher risk of being victimized by computer hackers and identity thieves.
Insurance claims for data theft worldwide jumped 56 percent last year, with a bigger number of those attacks targeting the hospitality industry, according to a new report by Willis Group Holdings, a British insurance firm.
The report said the largest share of cyber attacks — 38 percent — were aimed at hotels, resorts and tour companies.
That could spell trouble for frequent travelers who submit credit card numbers and other personal information to hotel websites, said Laurie Fraser, global markets leisure practice leader for Willis.
Fraser said large hotel chains are most vulnerable because hotel management companies may not be able to monitor how data is collected and stored at dozens or even hundreds of properties throughout the world. Independent contractors who work for individual hotels can also open the door to hackers and computer viruses, he said.
"There are various ways hackers can get into a hotel system," Fraser said.
Sherry Telford, a spokeswoman for InterContinental Hotels Group, one of the world's largest hotel companies, said InterContinental continually reviews its security measures.
"For obvious reasons," Telford said, "we cannot expand further upon the security measures in place."
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