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Hackers and Hospitality: Learning to Protect Your Data.
By Louise Osborne ~ Exclusive from ITB 2014
Friday, 14th March 2014

Exclusive ITB Feature: Threats of hackers and concerns about privacy are becoming more important to people as a result of the news that governmental organizations such as the US's National Security Agency (NSA) have been penetrating internet user data.

And one area where privacy is not protected enough is within the tourism industry, which needs to do more, a data security expert told delegates from the hospitality sector at the ITB Berlin conference.

"The hospitality industry is required to take action in order to protect customer and own confidential data by both organisational and technical measures," said Uwe Bernd-Striebeck, a lead consultant in security at KPMG in Germany.

"You need to do your homework, you need data leakage protection firewalls, etc, but also need to take additional measures because there might be a hacker inside your system and you need to be able to take action," he added.

In one incident, Striebeck told listeners, hackers were discovered working within the company and had been active for more than five weeks retrieving customer data bit by bit.

He said that generally the tourism sector is not aware enough of the problems in protecting data.

"We suppose that firewalls are going to protect us from the outside, but I can say that from thousands of penetration tests, we found only about 10 that one couldn't get through," he added.

However, he told delegates that there were particular recommendations they should bear in mind to enable to them to identify and protect sensitive data within their systems.

"First you must identify, what is critical data and what must not be lost in any case. If you know what this is then you are making headway," he said. "Where can you find the data? Once you know where they are, you need to make sure they have protective measures and you must also make sure these are sufficient."

This is strictly an exclusive feature, reprints of this article in any shape or form without prior written approval from is not permitted.

Louise Osborne is a correspondent and editor based in Berlin, Germany. She began her career working at regional newspapers in the UK and now works with journalists across the globe as part of international journalism organization, Associated Reporters Abroad (ARA). Living abroad for the second time, she continues to be fascinated by places both near and far, and boards a plane eagerly, as often as she can.

Louise writes a weekly exclusive column for

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