The present report aims to address importance of information technology on business. There is a recent news article regarding data breach and its analysis. A business is selected and its use of information technology, impact of information technology, potential threats, pros and cons of information technology are addressed in the report.
There was a cyber attack on the database of Marriott hotel last year. This was testified by the CEO of the hotel, Sorenson, Arne. Due to a massive data breach, more than five hundred million records of customers were affected on November 30, 2018. The names, mailing address, payment information, passport number, phone number, and other information was accessed. The Marriott hotel knew about data breach on 8th September, this was informed by the CEO in the senate committee on homeland security and government affairs permanent committee on investigations. The CEO of the Marriott hotel stated that 18.5 million passport numbers and 383 million guest records were stolen. Unencrypted passport numbers i.e. 5.25 million, encrypted payment card numbers up to 9.1 million and 385,000 valid card numbers were breached. The CEO believed that china is not responsible for the hack (O'Flaherty, 2019).
The administrator’s query to return the number of rows from a table in a data base triggered an alert from guardium. This query was striking because it showed that there was an interference of human operator. The third party investigators were asked to look whether there is data breach. After the investigations, malware on the IT system of Starwood was found. The remote access Trojan, allowed hackers to gain access to the computer and get control over the system. At this stage the company was not sure that the consumer data was breached. In October, the investigators found mimikatz; this was a device used by hackers to search for memory of passwords and usernames. The hackers can access to other systems from Starwood with the help of this device. The evidence for data base was still absent. In November 2018, the Marriott hotel realized that the hacker got access to the system from July 2014. The data of consumers was breached. On November 13, investigators found that the encrypted, compressed files were deleted from a device (O'Flaherty, 2019).
The investigators decrypted the files six days later. The files contained passport information, and other details of guest reservation in the files. The evidence by Sorenson states that “Suffering a large-scale data breach can be devastating for a company, but once it’s occurred it becomes a case of how quickly you can repair the damage”. The expert of cyber security Moore Jack said “One side is finding out how it occurred and patching it while learning and adapting rapidly, but the long game involves managing customers’ expectations and making sure the share price doesn’t dip too far”. Marriott hotel took three months to disclose that data breach has happened. The company failed to protect the information of the consumers, and is subject to a case in law which can be costly (O'Flaherty, 2019).
The information commissioner’s office imposed a fine on international hotel group Marriott about 100 million Euros. The hackers stole information of 339 million guests. In November 2018, the company disclosed a data breach and stated that the personal information of consumers like the credit card number, passport number, and so on were stolen. The ICO imposed huge fines under the general data protection regulation and used it powers to punish the company. The British airway was fined 183 million Euros for similar data breach where consumers’ data was not protected. It was mentioned that approximately thirty million of data stolen was related to the countries of European economic area. Marriott decided to appeal against the fine imposed by ICO. The investigation report showed that the data breach was a result of neglecting threats in the Starwood system in 2014. Starwood was acquired by Marriott in 2016. The breach of consumers’ information was not revealed till November 2018 (Sweney, 2019).
The investigation stated that the Marriott hotel was not cautious after it acquired Starwood, it should have confirmed that the IT system of the company were secure. The information commissioner said that the organizations should make it clear that they are responsible for personal data they have. The Marriott hotel intended to defend and actively defend its position. The company mentioned that it always intends to make secure the private information of consumers and they will face the situation and defend their position. It was cleared that the Starwood data base was no longer in use for customers’ reservations (Sweney, 2019).
The information technology includes saving and recording of data, the information is produced with the help of certain processes, and it is accessed, saved and transferred in a productive and effective way. There are three main principles, there is a need to access information, store it and have an access to it whenever required. With the emergence of computer, the information technology began in 1954. There were more advancement in the information technology and in 1990s the use of IT was a source of competition for businesses. The modern businesses utilize information technology to maintain their market position. They can access to new markets based on their usage of technology (Karaman, 2017).
Tourism comes under the service sector, and there is an extensive use of information technology because the industry needs to sell the products by showing certain features. The information technology plays a major role in tourism and hotel business because the guests need information about the product and services offered. In the tourism business, the information technology is beneficial for managers, staff and guests because it decreases failures, deliver report to the administration, meet the demands of the guests frequently, and satisfy their needs according to the changing trends. The usage of IT in business and especially hotel business is increasing rapidly. There are multiple uses of information technology in hotel business (Karaman, 2017).
In hotel business, internet usage is intense. The important information regarding distribution, advertisement, presentation, and definition of products on the internet is a basis of powerful information shared on the internet. The cost o distribution and presentation across the world is decreased because internet is a reliable medium to present features of services and products offered by the hotel. The information technology makes it easier to access the consumers from all over the world via emails or other reliable channels. The age of globalization is a benefit for hotel businesses. The hotel businesses took advantage of information technology to know about needs of consumers related to their services and improved their services accordingly. For the continuity business according to new economic trends the role of information technology is manifold.
The hotel business need to advertise services and internet provides a platform to do so. The information in written and digital form, tables, images, drawings, videos, sounds, and so on are the ways to bridge gap among the hotel business and potential consumers. The international hotel businesses like Hilton, Sheraton, and Marriott use their website to reach to reach consumers and new markets in order to share their services and products and make online reservations (Karaman, 2017).
The information technology makes sure superiority in the competitive environment. The hotels like Marriott can use internet and get competitive advantage over others by introducing latest innovations in services and products they offer. Marketing and sales cost are also manageable. The cost of ads and brochures has decreased because of internet usage. The internet can be used to reach consumers, inform them about the features of products and services. The internet can be used to convince guests regarding the services offered. For conducting marketing research, internet is helpful. The opportunities like online reservation, advertising, and so on provide more opportunities of growth and success. The internet reduces the cost of communicating with the guests. There is a greater opportunity to advertise different features of the product. With the advancement in innovations, the businesses can get a competitive advantage over their competitors. The information regarding products and services can be transferred in a faster way (Karaman, 2017).
The hotel business like other fields needs information technology to keep track of customers and guests. The customers’ record is used in online reservations. The internet is used to advertise about products and services. It makes it easier to reach consumers all over the world.
In the developing and developed economies, there is a major role of hospitality industry. The introduction of information technology in hotel business further improved the sector. In the last few decades, the information technology has revolutionized hotel business. It is estimated to advance at a faster pace and in coming years might include automation and mechanization. The hotel business has changed its mechanism related to consumer services from booking to reaching the destination. There is software which contains data of the company and manages records in an efficient manner. The enterprise level software helps to manage certain operations of the hotel business. The databases are organized. The consumers and business are satisfied with the advancement in information technology in hotels. There is a modernize appearance, reduced errors, and more frequency in an advanced IT. Online transactions are more convenient. The consumers can access the hotel directly from any region of the world. With the development of mobile applications, the hotel industry has become more accessible and advanced. The in-room technology is also advanced in the hotels to facilitate consumers and make the services more attractive (Attala, 2019).
The Marriott hotel utilized information technology to keep track of consumers, advertize their products and services, reach maximum number of consumers, keeping record for online bookings, and so on. There is smart heating, temperature and ventilation system in the hotel. There is smart technology to receive the guests, the in-room facilities are based on information technology like LED TV, Wifi, and so on. The hotel industry possess large amount of consumer data and needs a bigger protection. The data can be stored on computer, and it is protected from any human error. The goal of the business is to protect the consumer data from any breaches. Smart reserve paring is used by the hotel. Consumers can use mobiles for smart check ins and check k out. The staffing needs are reduced because of these features of information technology. The Marriott hotel offer mobile room keys, through smart phone app (Attala, 2019).
The hotels like Marriott are trying their best to advance their system through information technology.
There are many risks for businesses which are dependent on information technology like networks and computers for key operations like online booking, advertisements, keeping consumer data in case of smart phone applications, and so on. The hotel business needs to be aware of potential risks in order to minimize their impact on their growth and expansion. The hardware and software failure are the general security threats. The malicious software designed to hurt the computerized system of a business or a malware is a risk. The viruses are a threat for user information. The phishing spams and scams are very evident risks in the hotel business where users get email from unsolicited sources and reveal their personal information. Mostly, human error and ignorance can pose a risk to cyber security (What is an information technology risk?, 2019).
The hackers, password thefts, and frauds are dangerous for the companies who depend on information technology for their business activities. in the Marriott hotel there was a security breach in which hacker gain access to data base of hotel and identified private information of users (What is an information technology risk?, 2019).
When Marriott acquired Starwood in 2014, this led to an information breach in 2018. It affected about five hundred million guests. The company identified an attack to consumer data base of Starwood through a device. The unauthorized access was able to copy important consumer information from the database. In November 2018 the company finally revealed that the consumer data was stolen and millions of guests were affected by the breach. The names, email address, passport numbers, email address, and phone numbers were stolen. The payment card numbers of some consumers were stolen. It is estimated that the hospitality industry is far behind other businesses in terms of internet privacy. It is suggested that the cyber security mechanism of Marriott hotel overlooked the signs of threats. The organizations like Marriott actively respond to any threats to cyber security, but there was a significant gap in identification of potential risk after acquiring Starwood. This was a major flaw in cyber security. The warning signs were missed and there was no action taken to mitigate the risks (Escobar, 2018).
Marriott hotel kept on interacting with consumers but took no action to protect their data. The Marriott hotel did not make considerable efforts to check the system of Starwood after acquisition which resulted in theft of important information. For years, hackers were not detected, and this shows a major flaw. The size of data breach shows that Marriott hotel needs to regulate the mechanism for cyber security. The company should have the ability to reverse attack to develop a trust in consumers. An expert said that the breach happened because the underlying system was broken. It was revealed that Starwood and Marriott did not have adequate cyber security measure (Escobar, 2018).
Attala, J. (2019). 10 ways smart technology is reshaping the hotel industry. Retrieved from https://www.hotelmanagement.net/tech/10-ways-smart-technology-reshaping-hotel-industry
Escobar, M. C. (2018). Cyber Security Experts Weigh In on Marriott/Starwood Data Breach. Retrieved from https://hospitalitytech.com/cyber-security-experts-weigh-marriottstarwood-data-breach
Karaman, A. (2017). The importance of internet use in hotel busıness; a study on small hotels. Journal of internet applications and management .
O'Flaherty, K. (2019). Marriott CEO Reveals New Details About Mega Breach. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/kateoflahertyuk/2019/03/11/marriott-ceo-reveals-new-details-about-mega-breach/#dc76053155c0
Sweney, M. (2019). Marriott to be fined nearly £100m over GDPR breach. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/jul/09/marriott-fined-over-gdpr-breach-ico
Volodzko, D. (2019). Marriott Breach Exposes Far More Than Just Data. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidvolodzko/2018/12/04/marriott-breach-exposes-far-more-than-just-data/#4f609df96297
What is an information technology risk? (2019). Retrieved from https://www.business.qld.gov.au/running-business/protecting-business/risk-management/it-risk-management/defined
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