Security in the hospitality industry needs to be sweet and simple- Harish Chandra, GM IT, Sarovar Hotels

It’s been six years since the terror attack on Taj, Mumbai. Taking cue from the unfortunate incident, hotels have significantly stepped up their security measures. To get an insight into best practices being adopted in the hospitality industry, Dataquest interacted with Harish Chandra, GM-IT, Sarovar Hotels. Chandra updates us about unique security challenges being faced by the industry. Edited excerpts

Irrespective of the vertical, today one of the biggest challenges CIOs face is related to managing security. If you look at the hospitality industry, what are some of the unique security issues this vertical faces apart from the general security concerns?
Our industry deals with two types of consumers, ie, internal
and external. The internal consumers are different teams of sales, HR, accounts, security, front office, food production, among others. In hotels, we place two networks that are physically separated without creating any virtual network separation.
The structured cable system of guest network and admin network is physically separated. Admin network for the hotel employees is totally separated (switches, rack, cables). This is done to protect hotel systems and networks from virus infected gadgets. Hospitality industry is very different from IT firms and MNCs where visitors are not allowed to carry cell phones and laptops. For us guest’s comfort and requirement is a priority.

What are some of the security best practices you have
adopted?
Wi-Fi/wireless is a topic of concern for everyone. In our newly built hotels, 20% of rooms are provided with both wireless and wired high-speed Internet access and rest of the rooms have Wi-Fi. So, if a guest cannot use Wi-Fi access due to security reasons, he can access the wired Internet connectivity.
Also, the hotel industry believes in the principle of KISS (keep it simple and sweet). When a guest comes to a hotel room, the average length of stay is only 1.5 or 2 days. We do not want to make it so complicated that he has to call someone for username and password to login to the Wi-Fi. So we say that everything should be automated without any human interference and yet secure.

What changes do you observe in the hospitality industry
from the security standpoint? Please update us about technology solutions being used to ensure guest security in hotels.
After the Mumbai terror attack a lot of hotels have taken
numerous initiatives to make sure that guests are safe. Today,
everyone has to pass through the Door Frame Metal Detector. The perception towards security has changed.
All the hotels have X-ray machines and guests have to put their baggage and laptops in the X-ray machines and go through the security check. Most of the state governments have passed notifications to the hotels that all the important entry points should have CCTV recording of one month. Use of electronics security, physical barriers, rising bollards, etc, is common. All the hotels are using technology in terms of software and hardware. They are using IP CCTVs to do analytics. Other technologies being used include hand held metal detector, pole metal detection system, and access control systems.

Please update us on your plans to ensure data security.
We are looking at disaster recovery in case something goes wrong. Data should be kept in bank lockers or say some 50 kms away from the hotel premises in case of any unforeseen circumstances.

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