Most people still don’t realize that public Wi-Fi spots can put them at risk. It is tempting to connect to the internet for free, and many enterprises fulfill this need by opening free Wi-Fi spots. However, this type of connection is not safe and might have severe consequences on privacy and security. But what about hotel Wi-Fi? Should you use it or not?
Users assume that these networks are safer than the typical ones offered by coffee shops or stores. Since a reputable hotel provides the Wi-Fi spot, it is easy to trust all its services. After all, you are a respectable guest, and you expect the same from others. However, in most cases, these networks are just as dangerous as any other Wi-Fi spot on the map.
They are High-Risk Connections
Cybercriminals often target hotel Wi-Fi spots. They are used as access points to intercept the data that people are sending or receiving. Therefore, hackers might end up with an impressive loot, consisting of passwords and personal information. Additionally, they might infect computers with malware, which can act in a variety of intrusive ways.
The main issue occurs when hackers become secret intermediaries between devices and the connection points. Then, all the traffic and data transmissions are visible to crooks. Another simple trick that criminals use to fish for victims is by setting a phony Wi-Fi network, similar to the one offered by the hotel. When guests connect to this proxy network, they are at the mercy of the hacker. All of these vulnerabilities make hotel Wi-Fi spots extremely high-risk, and you should not connect to them without proper protection.
Do Hotels Try to Secure Their Networks?
The chances of connecting to secure Wi-Fi are close to zero. The reason is quite simple – hotels have many priorities, and wireless connections usually do not make the cut. When setting up their Wi-Fi spots, hotels might apply some security measures. However, they typically fail to continue improving them. In general, the lack of protection and appropriate data encryption leaves all Wi-Fi spots open to attacks and snooping.
In a lot of cases, hotels don’t change Wi-Fi passwords for years. Also, you might have stayed in a hotel that used room numbers as passwords. Simply put, that simple password is the only thing that is “protecting” guests.
There are even hotels that make their Wi-Fi networks open to the public. Even if this looks like a nice gesture, it’s a big security risk. Hence, since you can’t rely on the hotel staff to help you protect your digital identity, you will have to take charge to use these types of networks safely.
Ways You Can Protect Yourself When Connected to a Hotel Wi-Fi
Luckily, there are ways to make sure that the connection to a Wi-Fi spot does not end with your credentials being stolen or exposed. Here are some of the techniques to consider:
Turn Off File Sharing
It doesn’t matter if you are using a laptop, a tablet, or a smartphone – you can always turn off file sharing. This action gives you additional protection against traffic analysis attacks. It prevents others who are connected to the same network to see your private information. However, it’s not a 100% guarantee.
Use a VPN
Virtual private network (VPN) tools are designed to encrypt your data when going online. They can be used by anyone and on all preferred devices. Simply put, these tools encrypt the information you send and receive and hide your IP address.
Even if malicious actors have access to the hotel Wi-Fi, they won’t be able to spy or intercept your data transmission when using a VPN. If you hesitate to pay for a subscription, start with a free VPN trial. Once a VPN directs all traffic through a secure tunnel, you can connect to Wi-Fi spots without fear.
Use a Firewall
Firewalls give you excellent gateway defense. Simply put, firewalls prevent hackers from accessing your system. They filter traffic based on the rules defined by the user. As a result, firewalls are crucial to blocking harmful communication that could lead to someone hacking your device.
Don’t Use the Network for Work or Banking
If you plan to access accounts that include sensitive information, don’t do this while connected to a hotel Wi-Fi. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Ordering a new pair of shoes from Amazon can wait until you find a secure network.
Update Your Software and Operating System
Don’t skip on those critical updates. Yes, they can be annoying, but updates come out so frequently because they offer essential security patches. Smartphones often have weaknesses that can be targeted, so make sure to update them as well.
Finally, remember to use the internet according to the recommendations from specialists. Don’t visit shady websites or download content that isn’t verified by reliable sources. With these simple steps, you can make it more difficult for hackers and malicious software to break into your device. Furthermore, during your next stay at a hotel, do not forget to use the necessary security measures. Otherwise, spend extra on mobile data so that you won’t be tempted to connect to public Wi-Fi spots.