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Securing Guest Data: The Argument for Cloud-Based PMS

31 January 2022
5 min read
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Until the pandemic hit, hoteliers were historically slow to integrate new technology. The industry-wide innovations made during COVID-19, however, kept hoteliers afloat when travel ground to a near-complete halt, and as work-from-hotel and contactless solutions became common guest expectations, cloud-based solutions were widely equipped. But despite the hospitality industry’s recent shift towards technological adaption, when it comes to guest data, there’s still a significant debate over whether locally hosted or cloud files are more secure.

With high volumes of sensitive information received daily, hoteliers are justifiably cautious about how they store guest data. Cyberattacks are on the rise, and the highly personal nature of the data stored, such as social security numbers, credit card information, and licenses or passports, make hotels an attractive target for attacks and data breaches. Hoteliers tend to believe that keeping data off-site makes them more vulnerable to attack and theft, but cloud-based solutions can often provide greater security than their on-premise counterparts.

Challenges of On-Premise Solutions
On-premise data solutions have infrastructures that are challenging to maintain. The root cause varies, but it can often be boiled down to the complexity of incorporating new security stacks, the costs associated with expanding storage space and the time and resources hoteliers must dedicate to ensure modern security measures are implemented. Because the threat of operational disruption is too great, providers simply add new security features to existing on-premise stacks, forcing hoteliers to continually expand their storage capabilities.

By its nature, cloud-based infrastructures are much more simplified. Industry-leading data-protection technology can be seamlessly integrated into a cloud-based security architecture, without the threat of disruption that integrations into on-premise solutions often cause. Security stacks can be swapped out, and new features can be trialed before being integrated into the system. Since cloud-based providers continually make significant investments to develop cutting-edge data-protection technology, cloud-based solutions ensure industry-leading security measures are continually used.

Storage Location Matters
When hoteliers use on-premise PMS solutions, all previous and current guest data is stored in an on-site server, which carries the risk of unknown data privacy compliance violations. Cloud-based solutions, however, allow hoteliers to store their guest data off-site. In fact, nearly all the responsibility for protecting guest data shifts to the PMS provider, who utilize sophisticated data systems and advanced security systems to protect the sensitive information kept within.

Additionally, cloud-based PMS providers provide their own staff of highly qualified IT professionals, relieving in-house hotel IT from the burden of maintaining and supporting security infrastructure. Internal staff can be freed to focus on other technological priorities, while laser-focused data storage professionals dedicate themselves fully to protecting a property’s guest data. All security maintenance and technological integrations are routinely maintenanced and procured by the cloud-based provider instead.

The cost of integrating cutting-edge security may concern hoteliers, but because cloud-based PMS customers share common IT infrastructure, vendors typically charge each customer only a fraction of the total cost of implementing and maintaining security measures. On the other hand, customers of on-premise PMS software require the installation of physical infrastructure at each property, so they can’t share in the costs of maintaining the security technology needed.

Remote Security Control
In addition to heavily investing in physical security, industry-leading PCI compliant cloud-based PMS vendors also offer unique remote security features that on-premise solutions lack. With the ability to access a PMS’s security features from virtually anywhere in the world, hoteliers can be instantly notified when unauthorized file uploads have been attempted, ensuring continual protection against malware attempts on their computer equipment. Real-time activity monitoring also enables hoteliers to identify unusual user behavior and alerts staff to potential system threats, mitigating data risks by enabling protective action before data leaks occur.

The notion of remotely accessing a PMS’ security features may unsettle hoteliers, but cutting-edge authentication protocols ensure that authorization doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Hoteliers are given the ability to grant or deny staff access to security features, and approved users are required to verify their credentials at each log-in. Geofencing capabilities allow hoteliers to create a virtual perimeter around the property or any other approved physical locations, which work alongside geolocation capabilities to automatically detect and limit sign-in attempts from unusual or unapproved locations. In addition to monitoring authorized access attempts, cloud-based providers also allow hoteliers to quickly react to security threats by enabling them to shut off any part of a system that may be affecting the overall security of the platform or service.

Always Ensuring Compliance
Because cloud-based PMSs shoulder the burden of data protection, providers must continually assure hoteliers that their systems can actively protect against the loss of confidentiality. Annual third-party audits are conducted, which rigorously and thoroughly search for potential flaws in a provider’s data center, security protocols and processes. On-premise systems have no similar requirements. As a result, compliance measures are not only met, but often exceeded with cloud-based solutions.

When choosing a cloud-based PMS provider, there are additional security measures hoteliers should consider. Place consideration into the industry-leading PMS providers that utilize multiple data centers across several different countries, which can provide an added layer of data protection. In the event that something goes wrong, providers that offer 24/7 support can be a critical factor in mitigating losses. Finally, PMS providers should be transparent about their data protection methods, and a hotelier should always make sure they have a thorough understanding of what services are available to them.

As the hospitality industry continues to lean into cloud-based systems, hoteliers shouldn’t let their PMS solutions fall behind. Just as the cloud equips hoteliers with the cutting-edge technological solutions needed today, so too can it modernize a property’s data protection techniques.

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