Posted by: on May 29, 2024 at 9:26 am

“Is Hotel Wi-Fi Safe to Use?” This question plagues every traveler who relies on the internet for work or vacation. When you are traveling, cybersecurity might not be top of mind. Here’s a friendly reminder: public Wi-Fi, especially at hotels, can be a breeding ground for cyber threats.

Remember the recent chaos at Omni Hotels? Crazy thing was, I was there. I was at an Omni hotel for an MSP conference, and the hotel system went down. No one could check into their rooms, and it was a bit chaotic. The cyberattack this spring crippled their entire IT system, leaving guests and staff scrambling. Thankfully I had an AirBnb close by, and avoided the headache. Trust me, the irony was not lost on us, a cyber attack happening in a hotel full of cybersecurity experts and IT professionals.

This is just one example of how vulnerable travelers can be when relying on unsecured Wi-Fi networks. This attack was different from a traditional data breach where credit card information is stolen. Instead, hackers infiltrated the hotel’s systems causing widespread outages and disrupting guest services. While the investigation is ongoing, Omni has confirmed that some guest data, including names, email addresses, and loyalty program information, may have been compromised. This incident highlights the evolving nature of cyber threats and the importance of traveler vigilance when using hotel Wi-Fi.

Why is Hotel Wi-Fi Risky?

Public Wi-Fi networks often lack the robust security features found in private networks. This makes it easier for hackers to intercept data transmitted over the network, including:

  • Login credentials: Hackers can steal usernames and passwords for email, social media, or even banking accounts.
  • Personal information: Unsecured connections can expose sensitive information like credit card details or travel documents.
  • Downloaded data: Downloaded files, emails, or even browsing history become vulnerable to interception.

As with all public Wi-Fi, try to stay away from using sensitive logins, banking, or bill payment. Reserve those activities for at home or secure networks.

The Consequences of Getting Hacked

Imagine this: you’re relaxing by the pool, catching up on emails on the hotel Wi-Fi. Unbeknownst to you, a hacker snatches your login credentials. Soon, you might find unauthorized purchases on your credit card or locked-out accounts. The stress and hassle of dealing with such a situation can quickly ruin your vacation.

Avoiding the Hotel Wi-Fi Woes

Don’t let public Wi-Fi anxieties cast a shadow over your traveling adventures. Here are some essential cybersecurity tips for a safe and secure travel experience:

  • Ditch the Hotel Wi-Fi: While tempting, do resist the urge to connect to the free Wi-Fi offered by hotels, airports, or cafes. Consider using your mobile data plan instead, or wait until you reach a trusted network like a friend’s home.
  • Mobile Hotspot Hero: Many smartphones offer a mobile hotspot feature, allowing you to create a secure Wi-Fi connection for your other devices using your phone’s data plan.
  • Turn Off Auto-Connect: Disable the auto-connect feature on your devices to prevent accidental connections to malicious networks.
  • Embrace the Power of a VPN: Consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when connecting to public Wi-Fi. A VPN encrypts your data traffic, making it virtually impossible for hackers to intercept it.
  • Be Wary of Public Charging Stations: Just like Wi-Fi, public charging stations can be compromised. If necessary, opt for a portable power bank or carry your own charger.
  • Limit Sensitive Activities: Avoid accessing financial accounts, online banking, or making online purchases while on public Wi-Fi.
  • Keep Software Updated: Ensure your operating systems, antivirus software, and web browsers are updated with the latest security patches. This helps to minimize vulnerabilities that hackers might exploit.

So… Is Hotel Wi-Fi Safe To Use?

Image by Ricardo_Duque

Like all Wi-Fi networks, hotel Wi-Fi is only as safe as its owners make it. It might be smart to look into the hotels you are staying at, and see if they have any security measures in place to protect their guests.

For general browsing and non-sensitive activities, hotel Wi-Fi can be convenient. However, avoid logging into sensitive accounts such as banking or bill payment unless you are using a VPN.

Just remember: “When in doubt, stay signed out.”

Travel Smart, Travel Secure with TAZ Networks

Traveling for business? The risks are even greater. Your employees could unknowingly download malware on an unsecured network, putting your entire company’s data at risk.

TAZ Networks offers comprehensive cybersecurity solutions designed to protect businesses of all sizes. Our team of experts can assess your vulnerabilities, implement robust security measures, and provide ongoing support.

Don’t be a cyberattack statistic! Let TAZ Networks help you travel smart and secure this year. Contact us today for a free security risk assessment and enjoy worry-free traveling.

Safe travels,

The Team at TAZ Networks

Omni Hotels confirms data compromise in apparent ransomware attack
Omni Hotel Update

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