In this interview, Manuel Aquilina, COO at Smart Technologies, tells us about the security challenges which digital transformation can present to hospitality operators, and how these can be mitigated successfully.

Digital transformation is improving the guest experience in the hospitality industry. What implications does digital transformation have for the industry in terms of security?

Nowadays, guests strongly prefer to book online, and once they arrive, technology enhances their stay. Cutting-edge players are using a combination of artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and near field communication (NFC) to help create a highly individualized travel experience. The infrastructure supporting these technologies is more complex and distributed than ever, with sensitive data residing in multiple clouds, an array of IoT devices connected to the network, and mobile access to more and more resources. Because of these factors, digital transformation initiatives almost always expand an organization’s attack surface, security-wise.

How can hoteliers mitigate the risks arising from such a scenario?

Digital transformation requires network security teams to rethink some principles that they have lived by for a long time. This is where security transformation comes in. The goal of security transformation is to unify the network security architecture into a broad, integrated, and automated infrastructure – eliminating silos and enabling centralized control and automation.

Can you explain in greater detail what kind of measures this would entail?

Security transformation requires a strategic, comprehensive approach to security that goes beyond last-generation security principles. An example is the shift required from perimeter security to broad coverage. Heavy dependence on securing the perimeter of a closed data centre becomes increasingly obsolete as more and more services and data are sprawled across multiple clouds. In addition, many organisations now allow network traffic to bypass the security controls of the data centre via SD-WAN technology. This means that security must be expanded to cover a greatly enlarged attack surface.

Another change in approach would be that from siloed security to an integrated architecture. As organisations add cloud solutions, they often simply activate the built-in security features from the cloud provider. But as multiple clouds are added over time, this results in a different set of security solutions for each cloud and for the on-premises infrastructure. This produces a piecemeal approach to security, not to mention increased risk. This is resolved through security transformation, which aims to provide centralized visibility and control for the entire infrastructure.

Finally, there would need to be a shift from manual threat response to automated detection and response. Current threats move at machine speed, with 87% of breaches now taking minutes to initiate, while 68% of compromises take months to be discovered. As a result, automated detection and response – including the use of AI and machine learning (ML) to detect unknown threats – are no longer optional. And organizations must ensure that the gathered intelligence is shared companywide.

What kind of security transformation solutions do you go for at Smart Technologies?

Ultimately, the best solution will enable network security, multi-cloud security, secure software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN), and automated threat detection and response that is centrally controlled with transparent visibility. Having said that, our experts at Smart Technologies will always review each client’s IT pain-points or business problem on a case-by-case basis and advise accordingly. They will then adapt the best-in-class solutions produced by our partners Fortinet to ensure that hotels are protected from their unique vulnerabilities.

For more information about how Smart Technologies can help you with your security transformation process, you can contact Manuel Aquilina at