A hotel in Toronto has warned of a new threat to stay at home tenants: a new generation of online thieves.
The hotel, which is part of the Hotel Industry Association of Canada, said the trend is “getting bigger and bigger.”
“We have a number of people who are looking to steal your credit card information from your account.
The problem is that there’s nothing that we can do,” said Craig Wiebe, chief executive officer of the hotel group.
“It’s not that you can’t call us at home, it’s just that it’s more difficult to do.”
A thief could use a mobile app to take control of a visitor’s device and use it to log in to the hotel’s website or register a new guest.
The thief could then access the hotel website and steal payment information, including the credit card number.
Wiebbe said hotel owners should be wary of online security measures, which he said may include “the most basic things like using your email password or password manager, or using the PIN code or using a PIN pad.”
The trend started with the use of credit cards for online purchases and now the hotel industry is being inundated with new and increasing attacks, Wiebi said.
A new generation “is trying to take advantage of the convenience of the Internet.”
“The more people we’re able to put in contact with, the more we’re going to see this trend,” Wiebo said.
“If they’re not going to get your credit information, they’re going do it through other means, including through the use in online purchases.”
Wiebie said hotel operators need to work harder to stop the theft and help those who may have lost their information.
“The problem is, we don’t have all the tools we need to fight this,” he said.
The Association of Hotel and Restaurant Owners of Canada (AHLC) said it’s also concerned about the new attacks.
“This is a new technology that has changed our industry forever,” said Hana Al-Azzawi, the association’s executive director.
“There are not many companies that are aware of these new forms of digital attacks and are not taking the necessary steps to protect their guests and their facilities.”
The hotel association has put in place “an online security program that protects guests against this kind of activity,” Al-Anzi said.
Al-Asiri said it doesn’t know the extent to which hotel guests are targeted by the thefts.
“We are not able to provide an estimate of how many people have been victimized,” she said.
However, Al-Alwi said the number of hotel guests affected by the online thefts “is increasing.”
“What we know is that the number is growing and increasing every day,” she added.
“These are new and sophisticated methods of online theft and we need all of our hotel guests to be vigilant.”
Al-Azizi said hotel managers need to be aware of the threat and be on the lookout for the perpetrators.
“You have to be alert,” she urged.