Be Safe in Your Travels
- By Ralph C. Jensen
- Jun 27, 2014
Do you remember that one hotel you’ve stayed
at during the course of your travels? You remember
the one I’m talking about; it looked
good on the outside, but inside, there was no security.
It sort of left you feeling weak in the knees hoping
nothing bad would happen.
If you are an integrator and one of your clients
owns a hotel or even a chain of hotels, get up on your
soapbox and help them better understand security.
Even if a hotel has a strong security policy, with proper
procedures in place, they are still vulnerable. There
are cyber-attacks, theft, fraud and a myriad of other
things that could cause a patron to pause.
Like you, I travel a lot. The first things I look for
in my travels are elements of security. I look at the
airport; I look around inside a restaurant; and, I look
inside the hotel. I’m sure you will agree that having
robust security in place means a better and safer guest
experience. It also means that employees will think
more about safety and security, which will help minimize
danger and reduce theft.
When you arrive at a hotel, though, security is
probably the last thing on your mind. You’re probably
more concerned about getting checked in and making
that meeting on your schedule, or getting out, seeing
the local sights. The first thing I do when going
into a hotel room is flip the additional door lock and
slide the swing door bar into place. I feel secure in the
room, but when a room is not occupied, the hotel is
responsible for the security of the property.
In the summer of 2012, security researcher and
software developer Cody Brocious exposed a security
flaw in some Onity door locks, revealing a lock-hacking
technique that received widespread attention. At
that time, dozens of hotel guestroom burglaries took
place in Texas and Arizona. Onity announced a fix for
the lock and shipped out 1.4 million solutions for its
locks to hotel properties, though it took some hotels a
while to get in step.
Here are a few steps a hotel or hotel chain can take
to increase guest security:
Update your locks. Systems that track who goes in
and out of rooms can serve as a deterrent. If there is
an audit process on the door, rooms are less likely to
be the subject of a theft.
Set-up cameras. Thanks to new innovations with
software, video cameras can now recognize activity in
an area and provide an alert. There could also be a
third-party monitoring the property with the ability
to audio call to advise someone who doesn’t belong
on the property that they are being watched.
Customer service. When guests arrive at your hotel,
greet them in a way that they know they are welcome,
and in the case of an unsuspecting thief, they know
the property is being watched at all times. You don’t
have to hire more people, just make your employees
more aware of security procedures.
Cultivate a sense of ownership. When employees
have a sense of ownership, this increases their empowerment,
making security on the property much tighter.
Employees will be able to solve safety and security
problems more quickly and efficiently. This is true in
any work environment.
Hire the right employees. Most employers now
require drug screening and a criminal background
check. Good idea, but they also should have certain
controls in place that new employees know about,
such as a monitoring system that will monitor their
activities so crimes of opportunity become far less
likely. For instance, handling a cash bag should require
that two employees are involved. The reasoning
seems pretty logical.
Add monitoring to video surveillance. Most hotels
have video surveillance in the lobby or at the
front of the facility. They even have surveillance that
monitors cash drawers, but now there is software
that enables hotel owners to match transactions
with video surveillance.
Protect electronic borders. Computer system hacking
has become all too common. Russian hackers
tapped into Wyndham Worldwide’s data center in
Phoenix three times between 2008 and 2010. The result
was more than 600,000 payment card accounts
tapped, leading to more than $10.6 million in fraud.
The result for Wyndham was a federal lawsuit alleging
that they failed to implement reasonable data security
Protect passwords. Not all cybercrimes occur online.
Employees should have awareness about the
physical security of computers, access control and
passwords. The easiest and most familiar means for
criminals to gain access into a computer is by conning
an employee. Passwords should change every three
months, and employees and security staff should always
keep an eye out for people who are in staff-only
areas of a facility.
If you have a question about hotel security during
your travels, ask someone. Any trip you take,
whether for business or pleasure, make sure you not
only feel safe and secure, but that you are as safe and
secure as possible at all times.
This article originally appeared in the July 2014 issue of Security Today.