What’s the first thing you do after checking into a hotel and getting to your room? If you’re anything like me, then you probably connect to the WiFi ASAP. But wait a minute! How do you know that connection is safe?
WiFi networks that are secured by a password or that require your room number to log in are certainly more secure than open networks, but that does not mean they’re unbreachable. Before you log in next time, remember these scary facts about hotel WiFi.
1. Hotels are a prime target for hackers
Hackers target hotel WiFi because of all the people staying in hotels. Regular people like you. Hackers know that they can get to your private information, including passwords and payment details. You might think you’d be safer in more expensive and high-end hotels compared to a one-star hostel, but these can be even bigger targets because hackers know that the guests staying there will be wealthier and sometimes “important”.
2. Hotel WiFi is a gateway to all your booking details
If cybercriminals do manage to hack into a hotel’s WiFi, then they potentially have access to all the guests booking details. And not just the guests currently staying at the hotel. Hotels may store years’ worth of data on their systems. So, if you logged into that WiFi network a few years ago, you could still be at risk. Hackers may also be able to monitor your online activity while you’re connected to the network, so they can see anything you do and any private information you share online.
3. Securing guest wifi isn’t always a priority
Maybe you’re willing to face the above risks because you trust that the WiFi in hotels is secure. But think again. Online security has come a long way in recent years, but hotel WiFi often runs on outdated software, which may not have the same safeguards as updated software.
The people in charge of the IT infrastructure of a hotel may not be specialists, especially since employees are often promoted from within in the hospitality sector. Plus, it is often up to the owners of the hotel to decide when to focus on improving security, and these people usually prefer to invest in improvements that the guests can see.
4. They can easily be spoofed by hackers
Even if a hotel’s WiFi network is completely secure, what you’re logging into might not be the official hotel network. Hackers can spoof WiFi networks, creating a separate network and giving it a similar name to the hotel’s WiFi. To the average smartphone user, this spoof network will look like the right one. But once they log in, the hackers have easy access to all that person’s data and activity. Hackers can achieve this with a device as innocent-sounding as the Pineapple.
Still happy to hand over all your details to the hotel WiFi? Luckily, there are ways you can secure yourself. If the hotel WiFi is your only option, then you can use a VPN to protect yourself online.
Another option is to use your own private WiFi network wherever you go, so you don’t have to rely on sketchy networks ever again. A pocket WiFi from TravelWifi can help you achieve this.