Travel insights from Andrea Sedlacek, editor of The Compass

Don’t Get Hacked: Steps to Take to Keep Your Agency Safe

Cybersecurity is of the utmost importance, especially for businesses that do a majority of their work online and on computers – like travel agencies. But don’t be intimidated by the idea of cybersecurity. You don’t need to be an IT genius to shield yourself from getting hacked.

“There are some pretty simple guidelines to follow to protect yourself and your data,” says Luke Gibson, director of VAX VacationAccess. “Make sure you’re using the current version of Windows/iOS and that your anti-virus software of choice is up-to-date. Beware of phishing attacks, which can come in many forms, but most commonly through email. A good general rule to follow is to avoid opening attachments or clicking on links sent in emails from senders you don’t know. Carefully check the email address of a suspicious email to make sure the name of the sender matches the name or company name you could expect.” Gibson also recommends limiting your use of public Wi-Fi to make any sign-on, booking or financial transactions (this includes hotel and airport Wi-Fi) unless you’re able to use a VPN, or virtual private network.

It’s also important to protect your agency’s VAX account. The best way to do this is by monitoring your agency’s booking activity daily. You can use the newly enhanced Retrieve Reservations report to do that (here’s some guidance if you need it). Just click the Search button, no need to enter any search criteria, and you’ll get a list of every reservation made by your agency. If you see any you don’t recognize, take action immediately.

Gibson also recommends keeping your list of agents’ accounts clean. “When an agent leaves your agency, make sure you or your designated site manager deletes that agent’s VAX account,” he said. What’s the easiest way to ensure this gets done? Make this action part of your checklist of actions to perform when someone at your agency leaves. Obtain any company property that they had, transfer their clients to a different agent and delete their VAX account. It’s a quick task – see how to do it here. If you’re a site manager, you may also want to audit the current list of users on a monthly basis to be sure only the right people have access to your agency’s VAX account.

Another important tip from Gibson is to protect your passwords. Don’t share passwords in your office – even if it’s someone you work closely with. Use strong passwords (use capital and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols) and change your passwords regularly. VAX helps you out a bit already by prompting you to change your password every six months, but you can definitely change it more often. It’s hard for a hacker to keep up with an expired password when they’re looking to commit fraud on a victim’s account.

The bottom line is if you use a computer to access the internet, you are susceptible to being hacked. Follow these best practices to give yourself a line of defense.

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