Top 5 Compliance Challenges for Hospitality - #4: Complex IT Environments

In this series, we'll address the top security and compliance challenges faced by hospitality brands and properties.

Last week, we highlighted the fact that the number one technology issue facing hospitality brand and property owners today is compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS). But meeting PCI presents many challenges, such as lack of network segmentation.

Continuing our count down, challenge #4 is complex IT Environments.

When it comes to hospitality, IT complexity is a major challenge for:

 

  • Highly distributed, decentralized organizations
  • Relatively large, disparate and inconsistent individual site networks

Restaurant chains, for example, and other franchised or corporate-owned businesses, are often highly distributed operations with multiple sites with no shared, common technology, or shared information security policies and procedures. Standardization is important, but many times it takes a back seat to growing the business.

In hotel properties, complexity occurs as the result of accommodating many disparate systems that need to co-exist and interact with each other, such as:

 
  • Central reservation systems
  • Point-of-sale (POS) systems
  • Platforms for finance, sales, guest services and catering
  • Physical security elements (e.g., surveillance, key cards) that tie into the data network

This can result in tens to hundreds of devices sitting on the data network at individual properties. Even worse, each system may be in scope for PCI DSS, increasing the complexity of the compliance validation process.

What's a Hospitality Business to Do?
First, determine who in the organization is responsible (or who should be) for overseeing compliance efforts, policies and procedures, and deployment of IT security technology.

Next, take stock of what the environment looks like between corporate and individual property locations at a basic level by answering some simple questions:

 
  • Do standard information security policies and procedures exist in some form for the organization as a whole? How are they communicated across the business?
  • Is there a network perimeter security control at each location such as a firewall?
  • How many distinct configurations exist from a network security perspective?
  • How is compliance with the PCI DSS being practiced among the business operation? Is there consistency among compliance processes and security controls?

Depending on the answers to these questions, determine if the organization has the time, resources and expertise to support bringing about the standardization, consistency and day-to-day management necessary to implement best-practice compliance and security processes, procedures and technology.

If necessary, engage a third-party with expertise in these areas to help ease, simplify and accelerate these support requirements.

Next week's challenge for hospitality is #3: information security awareness.

Learn more about how to address security and compliance challenges in hospitality environments.

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