The future of the travel & tourism industry will be shaped by a range of disruptive themes, with cybersecurity being one of the themes that will have a significant impact on airline companies. 

Cybersecurity is the body of technologies, processes, and practices designed to protect networks, computers, programmes, and electronic data from attack. The travel and tourism industry is highly exposed to attacks due to the wealth of personal data it stores. Worth $1.3bn in 2020, cybersecurity revenues in the travel and tourism sector are forecasted to reach $2.1bn by 2025.  

Cybercriminals are attracted to this wealth of sensitive, personal data that the travel industry holds on every traveller. If these data points are not well protected, there are significant risks for the customers, who could have their data stolen. Such breaches can damage a company’s reputation. Several high-profile companies within the sector have made negative headlines due to poor cybersecurity. Cybercriminals exploit the vulnerabilities within a cybersecurity strategy, so a rigorous approach is central to effective risk management. To tackle cyber threats, a company’s cybersecurity strategy must involve contingency planning, outlining immediate actions, post-breach responses, and an understanding of the company’s current cyber risks.  

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The travel and tourism sector is becoming increasingly digitised, embracing emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and cloud. As the digital ecosystems of companies grow, they become more vulnerable to cyberattacks. The industry is fragmented, with direct suppliers sharing data with third-party intermediaries, increasing the number of potential entry points for attackers to exploit. Data is most secure when all companies across the travel and tourism value chain invest in all layers of the cybersecurity value chain. Collaboration is vital, and companies must ensure that all of their vendors also have suitable measures in place. It takes only one vulnerable device to compromise an entire network, impacting the reputation of a business and damaging both the companies they work with and customers’ security. 

However, not all companies are equal when it comes to their capabilities and investments in the key themes that matter most to their industry. Understanding how companies are positioned and ranked in the most important themes can be a key leading indicator of their future earnings potential and relative competitive position.  

According to GlobalData’s thematic research report, Cybersecurity in Travel & Tourism, leading adopters include: easyJet, Ryanair, Qantas, Southwest Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airways, United Airlines Holdings, China Eastern Airlines and LATAM Airlines. 

Insights from top ranked companies  

easyJet 

easyJet suffered a breach in May 2020, compromising data from nine million customers. The company has since created a data and cyber risk governance structure to review data and the cyber risk landscape regularly. This involves a dedicated information security team, employee education and awareness programme, security logging and monitoring, vulnerability scanning, penetration testing, and ongoing compliance with GDPR requirements. 

United Airlines Holdings 

In 2015, United Airlines suffered a data breach linked to a group of China-based hackers that compromised flight information and passenger details. The company has safeguarded internal network systems through risk assessments, system monitoring, information security policies, and employee awareness. The company received an A on the UpGuard security ratings, suggesting it has good security practices. Emily Heath, the United Airlines CISO from 2017 until 2019, said in 2019 that educating employees and being transparent about security and threats while embracing creative solutions was key to United Airlines’ cybersecurity philosophy. 

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the travel and tourism industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Cybersecurity in Travel & Tourism.   

GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article. 

GlobalData’s Thematic Scorecard ranks companies within a sector based on their overall leadership in the 10 themes that matter most to their industry, generating a leading indicator of their future earnings and relative position within key strategic areas.