Cybersecurity in the Hospitality Industry: Your 2024 Guide

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

The hospitality industry is vulnerable to data breaches and cyberattacks. Learn more about the importance of cybersecurity and the cybersecurity roles you could explore to help safeguard these businesses from cybercriminals.

[Featured Image] A man sits on a bed in a hotel room while using a smartphone and laptop to work on a project for his job in cybersecurity in the hospitality industry.

The hospitality industry strives to provide an exceptional guest experience, and building and sustaining an impeccable reputation is critical. Integrating emerging technologies and relying on vast amounts of customer data to help improve the guest experience also leaves the industry vulnerable to bad actors.

Worldwide, a single data breach costs an average of $4.45 million in 2023, according to data from IBM [1]. Worse, it could have a lasting impact on the reputation of the restaurant, hotel, entertainment venue, or other hospitality-oriented business, underscoring cybersecurity's vital nature in the hospitality industry. 

Let’s examine the pivotal role cybersecurity plays in protecting consumer data and the revenue and reputation of hospitality-oriented businesses in more detail. Explore some of the threats these companies face in 2024 and the jobs you might consider pursuing to help keep the industry and its customers safe from cyberattacks. 

Why is cybersecurity important in the hospitality industry?

This sector collects and stores data on millions of travelers and patrons daily. The hospitality industry is home to businesses in various categories, including lodging, food and drink, recreation, and entertainment, all of which handle their guests’ sensitive information, including credit cards and personal identifiers like names and addresses. Given the broad array of businesses that fall under this umbrella, it's not surprising that the sector collects and works with vast amounts of data. Notably, the sector continues growing at an impressive rate, with Reportlinker estimating it will reach a market value of more than $6.7 billion by 2026, with a 10.2 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) [2]. 

Safeguarding that data in a market that continues growing is vital. A single cyberattack or data breach could cause a ripple effect that leads to a loss of trust and significant damage in terms of both the brand’s reputation and the resulting revenue losses. 

Let’s examine a few compelling reasons driving the need for cybersecurity in the hospitality industry.

Protect guests’ data and information.

Guests expect hotels and other hospitality businesses to protect their sensitive data. That includes names, addresses, dates of birth, and credit card information—all of which cybercriminals could use to steal guests’ identities or sell their information on the dark web.

Mitigate financial losses

Research from cybersecurity service provider Trustwave in its 2023 Hospitality Sector Threat Landscape report shows that 31 percent of hospitality businesses have experienced a data breach. Among them, 89 percent experienced repeat breaches, with the per-breach cost averaging $3.4 million [3].

Prevent business disruptions and damaged reputations.

Financial costs related directly to the attack or breach are only the beginning of the potential implications. Phishing, distributed denial of service (DDoS), spoofing, and ransomware also can disrupt operations. Worse, they can erode public trust and tarnish the brand’s reputation, leading to potentially significant revenue losses and recovery challenges in the form of lawsuits and fines. 

Prepare for the future.

Cybercrime is already a significant threat and continues growing as hotels and other hospitality businesses embrace emerging technologies. Globally, cybercrime will continue wreaking havoc. According to predictions from Cybersecurity Ventures, it will increase by 15 percent annually from 2020 through 2025, with cybercrime-related costs totaling an estimated $10.5 trillion in 2025, compared to $6 trillion in 2021 [4]. Implementing robust measures is critical to protect the business from the ripple effects that can create widespread damage after a breach. 

Types of cybersecurity threats expected in the hospitality industry

To avoid and reduce the risk of cyberattacks, you must first understand the threat landscape. Hospitality businesses collect various data types, including guests’ names, addresses, email addresses, passport information, dates of birth, and credit card details. Additionally, they have many vulnerabilities, including the need for more staff training, the rise of contactless check-ins, and the use of third parties. 

Some typical types of cybersecurity threats the hospitality industry faces include the following:

DDoS: During a DDoS attack, attackers overrun a system with connection requests. Because the volume exceeds the system’s capabilities, it causes lagging responsiveness and interruptions in service that can severely impact the customer experience.  

Phishing: This sneaky form of a cyberattack often occurs through emails that appear to come from a trustworthy sender, such as a manager or hotel CEO. The goal of these emails is to trick the recipient, which could be an unsuspecting guest or employee, into clicking a link or divulging personal details.

Network breaches: Hotels, restaurants, and entertainment venues often provide guests with wireless internet service. Additionally, hospitality businesses rely on the internet and connected devices like interactive in-room screens and smart thermostats, leaving the company and its guests vulnerable to bad actors breaching the network. In turn, it opens the possibility of malware and rogue access points (also sometimes called “spoofing”) that allow criminals to steal information. 

Ransomware: During this type of cyberattack, criminals deploy malware to infect systems and files, essentially locking staff and businesses out and preventing them from accessing them. In these cases, cybercriminals typically contact the company and demand a ransom, threatening to otherwise exploit or destroy the information. 

What it's like to work in cybersecurity in hospitality

To reduce cyber threats and minimize the potential effects of a cyberattack in the hospitality industry, cybersecurity professionals can anticipate performing several duties, including conducting routine risk assessments to identify weaknesses and monitor threats. Additional tasks may include the following:

  • Develop cybersecurity procedures and policies.

  • Work with other staff and team members to minimize risks.

  • Train staff to increase awareness regarding threats and improve employee responses in the event of an attack

  • Contribute to the business-wide development of a cybersecurity-focused company culture.

  • Create frameworks and systems to limit access to sensitive or protected information and data.

  • Provide continual monitoring and regular updates to hardware and software.

  • Remain up-to-date on evolving and emerging threats for more effective, dynamic threat protection.

  • Perform cybersecurity tests to ensure protective measures guard against current threats.

Cybersecurity careers: salary and job outlook information 

A 2022 study conducted jointly by Coleman Parkes Research and Rackspace Technology surveyed more than 1,400 IT decision-makers worldwide in various industries, including hospitality. Among the respondents, 59 percent indicated that cybersecurity was a top concern for their C-suite executives, citing protecting critical data, managing risks, and mitigating threats as some of the top priorities [5].

The company’s 2024 IT Outlook Report, conducted jointly with VMWare and Dell Technologies, revealed that 41 percent of companies surveyed struggle to hire skilled cybersecurity experts [6]. Combined with the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’s prediction that jobs in information security will grow by 32 percent between 2022 and 2032 [7], it becomes clear that the job outlook for cybersecurity careers should remain positive for years to come. 

Although your salary will vary depending on various factors, including your experience level and employer, the average salary for an information security analyst is $119,693.51, according to data from Lightcast™ [8].

Essential skills needed

The pervasive skills gap across all industries is another vital factor driving demand for skilled cybersecurity professionals. Technological research firm Gartner anticipates that the lack of talent will drive more than half of cybersecurity incidents by 2025 [9]. Additionally, Cybersecurity Ventures points out that cybersecurity vacancies have increased exponentially. In 2013, global vacancies totaled approximately one million. The company predicts the number will continue growing exponentially, likely totaling 3.5 million in 2025 [10].

For those with the relevant skills, job opportunities are bountiful. The list below shows the various technical and workplace skills worth cultivating to help drive your success.

Workplace skills

Being able to ask the right kinds of questions, think on your feet, and communicate your findings to others are among the critical skills you will need to succeed in hospitality cybersecurity roles. Others include:

  • Critical thinking

  • Collaboration and teamwork

  • Communication

  • Presentation skills

  • Problem-solving

Technical skills

Although workplace skills are also critical, your technical skills will differentiate you from the crowd and help you be effective in your organization’s fight against cybercrime. Some of the technical skills you need include:

  • Coding expertise and familiarity with languages such as Java, C#, PHP, and Python

  • Knowledge of operating systems and point-of-sale (POS) systems

  • Experience with cybersecurity frameworks

  • Familiarity with threat modeling and assessments 

  • Understanding of network infrastructure and ethical hacking

  • Application development and cloud security 

  • Basic vulnerability testing experience

  • Knowledge of access management and data storage systems

How to gain the skills you need for cybersecurity in the hospitality industry

Cybersecurity offers a varied career path within the hospitality industry and across all sectors. Regardless of whether you opt to get a degree or not, building a sharp skill set and committing to ongoing learning to keep those skills fresh in the face of evolving threats is critical. 

Let’s look at several ways you can build your skills.


Although only some employers require a degree, it can offer an excellent starting point, particularly if you want to build a robust foundation of knowledge. A bachelor’s degree in a field like information security or computer information systems can offer a valuable combination of theoretical and practical knowledge. Suppose you’re deciding on whether to get a degree or not. In that case, it may be helpful to know that, according to data from Zippia, 61 percent of cybersecurity analysts have a bachelor's degree, with 15 percent having a master's and 19 percent getting their associate degree [11].

Work experience

Employers value hands-on experience. Becoming familiar with working with tools, including penetration testing platforms and intrusion detection systems, can help gain a role within hospitality cybersecurity. Although some entry-level jobs will require a bachelor’s degree, others, including cybersecurity roles like junior penetration testers and cybersecurity specialists, may be open to you regardless of your degree status. 


If you are shifting careers, entering cybersecurity without a degree, or interested in expanding your skills, a bootcamp can be an efficient way to do so. These accelerated learning programs typically offer a focused, skills-based curriculum designed to get you career-ready in a relatively short time. Bootcamps are intensive programs that usually include a mix of preparation for certifications and hands-on experience, with program durations spanning a few months up to two years. 


Whether you have foregone your degree entirely or are switching careers from another area of IT or another field, getting relevant cybersecurity certifications can boost your resume. Some of the top options available include the following:

  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

  • CompTIA Security+

  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

Getting started with cybersecurity careers

Cybersecurity careers, including those within hospitality industry job roles, may be virtually future-proof options. Given the growing demand, a widening skills gap, and the continual evolution of technology, the future for those with the skills and knowledge remains promising. Start preparing with online courses, which make exploring issues within hospitality and cybersecurity easy. 

For example, you can build a foundation in hospitality-related history and current problems with a course like Introduction to Hospitality Management in the 21st Century. This course from Starweaver helps guide learners through hospitality principles and the industry’s leading challenges and opportunities. You can also immerse yourself in building cybersecurity skills with the beginner-friendly Google Cybersecurity Professional Certificate, which can help you achieve your career goals. You’ll find these programs and more on the Coursera learning platform. 

Article sources


IBM. “Cost of a data breach 2023,” Accessed March 14, 2024.

Keep reading

Updated on
Written by:

Editorial Team

Coursera’s editorial team is comprised of highly experienced professional editors, writers, and fact...

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.