Hotel WiFi may be an ideal way to stay on top of your work and keep in touch with your family when you’re away from home. But it can also the perfect way for hackers to grab your sensitive information, as a recent experiment by the IT security company Smarttech dramatically demonstrated. In October and November, the company carried out random cyber security attacks against 10 prominent hotels across Ireland. What it found should serve as a WiFi wake-up call: 100% of its tests uncovered serious security threats for WiFi users!
Hacking Hotel WiFi Yields A Treasure Trove of Confidential Data
Smarttech’s engineers used the hack test known as a network sniffer –
so simple, even a novice hacker can use it with ease. Within 20 minutes of hacking each hotel WiFi network – and with very little effort – they were able to access a huge amount of hotel guests’ confidential data. Their haul included email logins and passwords, credit card, banking and PayPal account details, Facebook passwords and login information for mobile phones. The company even conducted one of its security checks from outside a hotel, proving that hackers could access guests’ sensitive information from a distance.
Smarttech’s chief executive Ronan Murphy had bad news for hotspot users everywhere, not just those at Irish hotels. He said, “The tests it conducted proved that these risks affect anyone using public WiFi.”
When It Comes to WiFi Security, The Buck Stops With Users
Smarttech contacted the hotels it hacked about their WiFi security, or should we say, their lack of WiFi security. Meanwhile, the Irish Hotels Federation said hotels should inform their guests about the nature of wireless security that’s in place and it urged WiFi users to make sure they have the necessary security installed on their devices, especially if they’re conducting commercial transactions or entering personal data online.
That’s good advice since hotel hotspots – like other public wireless networks – are by their very nature unsecure. That means it’s up to you to protect your sensitive information every time you log in. It’s not enough to ensure your security software is up to date. Nor will using strong passwords safeguard your personal data when you’re online. The only way to do that is to use a VPN like PRIVATE WiFi whenever you’re at a WiFi hotsppot. VPNs protect your identity by encrypting the information traveling to and from your laptop and mobile devices. That means it’s hidden from hackers.
Yet a recent survey by PRIVATE WiFi and the Identity Theft Resource Center found that more than three out of four respondents don’t use a VPN even though they should.
You wouldn’t leave your hotel room door unlocked. So why would you leave your hotel WiFi connection wide open for cybercriminals?