Amadeus Column: Is your data safe?

Most of us are conducting the bulk of our business – and maybe even our personal lives – online. This has exposed us to previously unknown risks, such as cybercrime, account takeover and even identity theft. According to recent research from Kaspersky Lab, more than three quarters (82%) of travellers connect to unsecured, free public-access wi-fi networks as soon as they land. Without a second thought, travellers bank or shop online and transmit confidential information which implies certain risks not only for individuals but also for companies. In a recent study conducted by Amadeus, Safeguarding information systems: A lever for revenue growth, Amadeus put a price tag on the cyber security threat: on average, a cyber-attack costs the victim company 2.6 million dollars. Fortunately, it’s not all bad news. Amadeus believes that information security should be seen by the travel industry as a lever for revenue growth. Security standards are often considered expensive and difficult to implement, so travel companies that can show their clients they have standards in place to safeguard their personal data, will earn their customers’ trust and deliver a better purchasing experience. Travelstart recently introduced Flapp, a smartphone booking app which uses data security technology to enable commuters to book a flight between Cape Town and Johannesburg in just a two simple clicks. The team recognized that entering a 16-digit credit card number is a cumbersome process, especially on a mobile device. Considering the client has to add in the name, expiry date and CVC security code, he has to click well over thirty times just to enter payment details. To simplify the payment process, Travelstart decided to store their customers’ credit card details. To ensure there is no risk to their customers’ sensitive data, the Travelstart team, working with Amadeus, converts all credit card details into ‘tokens’. As there is no logical link between the original data and the token, a hacker who accesses stored tokens has no way of converting that data back into useful credit card details. Now customers can safely pay in just two taps. Of course, securing data can be expensive and takes time and research. However, the cost of not securing data can be ruinous. So, please, if you doubt if your data is safe, consult with your technology partner. At Amadeus we believe that securing data is key for the success of our customers in the travel industry. Paul de Villiers