The FBI wants you to know that working from hotel WiFi can be a massive security risk
Never forget that public WiFi is sketchy.
As a result of the pandemic, millions of people were asked to work remotely from their homes. However, for many people working from home became more challenging than expected, especially for those with families.
To avoid common home distractions such as restless kids, loud neighbors, and dealing with home chores, many remote workers turn towards coffee shops and hotels for a quiet place to work. Usually, all they needed was a table, a chair, and an available WiFi connection.
Many hotels took note of that trend and started offering day rooms to remote workers.
As it turned out, daytime room reservations for remote workers in search of a distraction-free work environment was a smashing hit. Hotels added another income stream, whereas remote workers can work undisturbed.
However, the FBI took note of the trend and realized something very concerning related to it. The FBI is solicitous about the vulnerability of the hotel’s WiFi networks. Their concern is that one can easily hack these networks and present a higher security risk than home networks.
The FBI also pointed toward what’s known as an “evil twin attack.” This malicious exploit happens when a criminal creates a hotspot using the same or similar name as the hotel’s WiFi network. Unsuspecting guests sometimes log on that network instead of the one that belongs to the hotel. Once someone connects to a malicious hotspot, the criminal can easily control the user’s computer.
To avoid hacking or data stealing, the FBI has issued a set of privacy and security recommendations for remote workers working in hotels and using hotel WiFi networks. Some of the most notable recommendations are:
- Whenever possible, use a VPN. That makes it significantly harder for someone to hack your computer via WiFi
- Do not log on networks that don’t belong to the hotel where you stay
- Don’t use auto-connect to an available network
- Avoid logging into sensitive accounts. But if you have to, use at least three-step verification
- One should avoid doing online transactions or accessing banking sites. Furthermore, you should only access sites with HTTPs connection
- Always make sure that your OS is up-to-date, and you got your antivirus programs operational
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a “hotel industry standard for secure Wi-Fi access.” So there is no way to know if a hotel network has been properly secured or how frequently their firmware is updated.
So, it is pretty much up to the guest to ensure that their data is secure when using the hotel’s Wi-Fi.
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