Using hotel WiFi for browsing, shopping, or more serious purposes like working and banking can put you in grave danger. Security experts would definitely shake their heads since they know and have tested hotel internet security only to get disappointed.
Wi-Fi hacking is rampant, and things are taking a turn for the worse in recent years. In fact with 13% of all cyber compromises in 2020, hotels rank third as a target for cyberattacks (source: Trustwave 2020 Global Security Report). What’s the worst that could happen? Your data may end up on the Dark Web.
So, you must avoid hotel WiFi, and if you’ve no other option but to use it, here are some precautions you could try to travel safely online and offline.
How Does Hotel WiFi Work?
Your hotel’s internet is like other commercial systems. It uses business-grade hardware and internet cables to support office operations, hotel IoT technologies, and wireless users. A typical WiFi configuration consists of:
- Routers link to the network of your internet service provider.
- Internet is made available in public areas and guest rooms by access points.
- Switches connect access points for a smooth internet connection.
Yet, hotel structures pose particular difficulties due to soundproof walls and in-room facilities. Connectivity problems are brought on by several obstacles, which raises the cost of installing hotel WiFi overall. Fortunately, several technologies allow wireless services in public areas, guest rooms, and outdoor amenities.
Can Hotel Wi-Fi See What You are Doing?
Whether or not hotels monitor their networks is impossible to say, but it is conceivable they do so. You see, hotel servers aren’t special; they, too, keep track of the data transfers that their users make.
This file contains some of your personal information (name, surname, room number) and browsing information (time spent on a website, IP addresses you contact, login/logout times).
Is it safe to use hotel wifi with iPhone?
To put it simply, no. Here’s a list of reasons to support the said statement.
- Every information shared between you, and the websites you visit is collected by a hacker who intercepts data on the Wi-Fi network.
- Without the users’ knowledge, a hacker builds a network that looks like the real thing and activates auto-connect.
- Instead of calling their network “Honors,” hackers might name their network “Hilton Free Guest Wifi” to attract more users.
- The hacker redirects you to a hotel Wi-Fi login page where they get a hold of your personal data.
- Hackers sign in using a Wi-Fi password that is available online.
- Hackers appear as validated device that is already connected to a password-protected network.
- A hotel staffer could provide direct access to a cybercriminal.
- Someone at the hotel is tricked into sharing access to internal networks by a hacker. This is exactly how Marriott was compromised by hackers in 2020 and 2022.
- Hotel Wi-Fi routers with outdated firmware are the target of hackers.
Can someone see your texts if you use their Wi-Fi?
The hotel admin will not be able to see the content of your messages, but they may readily discover what websites you visit and how much time you spend online. Sounds nothing like anonymous browsing, does it?
What should you not do on hotel Wi-Fi?
Avoid signing into accounts that include your personal information, such as bank accounts, work accounts, and other sensitive accounts, when using a hotel WiFi network. Anyone using the hotel’s WiFi network could access your accounts, read confidential data, steal your identity, or access other data.
Risks of Using Hotel WiFi
Is it safe to use hotel wifi for banking? Is it safe to use hotel wifi for work? Let’s answer all your questions.
Stolen Usernames and Passwords
Whenever you use public Wi-Fi to access websites, you risk disclosing your usernames and passwords to unauthorized users.
You can log into your bank account by entering your username or password. Hackers easily steal these credentials, who can then access your account whenever they want. When you log into online portals provided by your credit card company, doctors, or retirement funds, the same thing may occur.
Once more, never use free public WiFi to access personal or financial websites. Never log in to a website when browsing in a restaurant, library, or hotel for your own safety.
Online Activities Tracking
While using hotel Wi-Fi, you might believe that the websites you visit, the emails you send, and the films you watch are private. To tell you the truth, they aren’t.
In fact, after connecting to the free public Wi-Fi provided by your hotels, hackers can intercept anything you do online with simple equipment. Again, the message is clear: Avoid using free public WiFi to access private websites, send crucial emails, or watch embarrassing movies.
Remember that whenever you surf, you never know who might be peeking.
Stolen Credit Card Info
When you use public hotel Wi-Fi, it may be simple for hackers to take your credit card information. For instance, Man in the Middle attacks might be planned by online criminals. This is to say that data from your laptop or smartphone is precluded in this kind of assault before it reaches a bank, retailer, or any other target.
Hackers locate an unprotected Wi-Fi router and use it to accomplish this. Furthermore, the Evil Twin assault could also be used to do the same, and because of this, it is advised against using credit cards on a hotel Wi-Fi network.
How do I make my Wi-Fi secure when traveling?
By following these steps, you can help protect your Wi-Fi connection and your device when traveling.
Use a VPN
Is it safe to use hotel wifi with VPN? Yes, it is.
Using a VPN limits attempts of invasions to access your online behavior. It helps prevent intruder invasion of the hotel network by hiding the traffic sent from your computer by encrypting your internet traffic and securing your data to be unintelligible to anyone who decides to decode it.
Hotel Wi-Fi networks are the most viable to being hacked, and that is why you need to use a VPN during your time there. Essentially, business travelers should keep a VPN connection to the corporate network on both their PCs and mobile devices.
Install Antivirus Software
Antivirus software can help secure your device against known malware and viruses that can potentially be present on a hotel Wi-Fi network and compromise sensitive information.
Antivirus software can also detect and block malicious websites and phishing attempts, which are common methods used by hackers to steal personal information from hotel guests. Some antivirus software includes a built-in firewall that can block unauthorized access to your device and prevent malware from communicating with a hacker’s command and control server.
However, antivirus software should not be relied upon as the sole solution for securing a hotel Wi-Fi network. It is still important to take additional steps, such as using a VPN, using strong passwords, and avoiding suspicious websites and links to help secure your device and protect your sensitive information.
Use Secure Sites, Avoid Sensitive Sites
It’s important that you use secure sites. Whenever possible, use websites with HTTPS in the URL. HTTPS encrypts the data sent between your device and the website, making it more difficult for hackers to intercept and steal your information.
Also, avoid visiting sensitive websites, such as banking or financial websites. Instead, you could use a secure cellular data connection or wait until you are on a secure network to access these websites. It would also help to keep your software up-to-date.
Change Passwords Once You Leave
When you use hotel Wi-Fi, your internet traffic can be intercepted by hackers who may try to steal your login credentials or other sensitive information. If you change your passwords once you leave the hotel, any stolen login credentials become useless, as the hacker will no longer be able to access your accounts.
It is also important to use strong, unique passwords for each website or account and to avoid using the same password for multiple accounts. This can help prevent hackers from accessing multiple accounts if they steal one password.
It is also recommended to enable two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever possible. 2FA adds an extra layer of security to your accounts by requiring a second factor, such as a code sent to your phone and your password. This can help prevent unauthorized access to your accounts, even if a hacker does manage to steal your login credentials.
The majority of hotel wireless networks are unsafe. It is advised to consider the security dangers of using an unprotected network if the network at your hotel is not secured. Set up a firewall and update your antivirus software. Above all, please consider signing up for a VPN service for more security.
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