SWCRC warns of cyber crime threat to tourism sector

By Ben Carey on 29 April, 2021

The South West Cyber Resilience Centre (SWCRC) is urging businesses in the travel and tourism sector to act now to protect against cybercrime.

With a wealth of visitor destinations across Wiltshire, businesses throughout the region are preparing for a bumper year for domestic tourism.

However, with a surge in online bookings for the sector comes the potential for an increase in cyber crime as criminals exploit security flaws in online systems.

SWCRC is a police-led, not for-profit organisation which exists solely to protect businesses and charities across the South West from the threat of online attacks.  

Director Mark Moore, said, “Over £10.4 billion was spent on tourism in the South West in 2019 and with overseas summer holidays looking increasingly unlikely this year, the sector is expecting an incredible season.

“Yet with so many people making their bookings online and entrusting their personal information and payment details to private holiday-letting providers, holiday parks, guest houses and hotels, it is crucial these organisations have cybersecurity measures in place to not only protect themselves but also their customers.

“Add to that the fact that some of the world’s leaders, delegates and media will descend on Cornwall in June for the G7 summit, all of a sudden the South West becomes a valuable target for the cyber criminals whom we’ve seen becoming more and more active during lockdown.”

Cyber attacks can have serious implications for businesses including loss of important files, harvesting of sensitive data and access to websites and networks.

South West Tourism Alliance Chair, Alistair Handyside MBE, said, “Cybercrime is something that is becoming ever more prevalent. Over the last year we have heard from more and more businesses which have been victims of cybercrime because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We would urge every travel and tourism firm to listen to the guidance being given around things you can do to make your businesses safer and to protect your livelihoods. SWCRC is a dedicated resource to try and fight this ever-growing threat.”

According to the SWCRC, 43 per cent of small businesses have been targeted by cyber criminals, with the annual cost of such attacks in the region of £4.5 billion.

For further guidance, resources and information on how to improve your business’s ability to defend against cyberattacks, visit the SWCRC website