How many times has free hotel WiFi been a deciding factor for you? Many travellers up and down the country consider free Internet access for their laptops, tablets or phones to be an essential element of a hotel room along with en suite facilities, nice views, access to attractions, and a good inclusive breakfast. However, your connection is not safe. Hackers have found weaknesses in hotel WiFi routers and installed malware so they can hack into your devices, steal your identities, and access your money.
This is not a problem exclusive to smaller hotels, but one that can be found all over the world. In fact, Cylance have identified hijacked routers and vulnerabilities in 8 of the 10 top hotel chains in the world. With the Internet of things allowing for device-based wireless control of functions from heating to keycard access, hackers could not only steal data but mess with a hotel’s entire operation. This latter scenario is less likely from a professional cyber-thief, they want to get in, get your details and get out again without being noticed.
All's not lost, however, as there are practical steps you can take to protect your identity online and keep your money safe. ID Theft Authority have put together a number of tips for safe hotel WiFi use including:
* Use only Virtual Private Networks or VPNs, which help encrypt your data.
* Try not to share any personal information.
* Use password protected networks.
* WPA, WEP and LAN (ethernet) are all vulnerable to hacking.
There are also proactive steps you can take to minimize your chances of being hacked by preparing your computer or device and being sensible online:
1. Block unwanted traffic on your computer firewall.
2. Disable all file sharing via the Control Panel on a Windows device and System Preferences on an Apple device. Other devices will have their own means of doing this.
3. Connect to the hotel WiFi network - if there are multiple WiFi options ask the front desk which is best to use because others may be malicious or unsecured.
4. Look for secure login pages for hotel WiFi access. If this is missing, your WiFi may be unsafe.
 hotel desk, Martin Kliehm
 Driskill Hotel Hallway, Adam Levine
September 9, 2016