If you’re privacy conscious, you’d know that it’s not safe to connect to a public Wi-Fi network as it could be laid out by hackers. While a reputed hotel will never try to steal your data, there could be a hacker who sets up a fake Wi-Fi hotspot and names it “Hotel WiFi.” If you connect to it, they can see all the data that you send and receive on that network.
Why It’s Risky to Use Hotel WiFi and How To Stay Safe
Using a VPN can protect you from this type of attack but not many guests use VPNs, which makes this an efficient attack and the hacker can gain access to their email passwords, social media passwords, and even the bank and credit card information.
A hacker can also leave a virus on your computer through that network. And if the hacker is really good, they can use this method to hack into the security system of the hotel and steal the guest details. If you’re a traveler, this is scary information.
Why Use Hotel WiFi?
Connecting using your 4G mobile data can be very expensive, especially if you’re traveling. Travelers generally look for ways to save a few MBs wherever they can, which makes hotel Wi-Fi an attractive deal. If you’re not cautious, your mobile data charges can run into hundreds of dollars. This is why using a hotel Wi-Fi becomes a compulsion for most travelers.
There are several reasons why you might want to stay connected on the internet even while you’re vacationing. If you’re on a business trip, it’s absolutely necessary to use the net. And even if you’re on your personal trip, you would want to use maps to find directions, social media to share pics, and even translate if you’re in another country. And all this cannot be done with your mobile data.
The 4 Hazards of Using Hotel WiFi
When you use a hotel Wi-Fi, these are the possible attacks you might face.
- Replay attack: With this attack, the hacker replays the authentication session of the user. This way, they can gain access to the network and obtain the private information of their victim.
- Eavesdropping attack: As discussed earlier, in this attack, the hacker can create a network to lure the victim. If the victim joins the network, their data will be compromised.
- Traffic analysis attack: In this attack, the hacker is able to spy on the hotel network and see the data that’s being transmitted on it.
- Dictionary attack: In this attack, the hacker tries to use dictionary words to guess the password of the network. It involves brute force method by applying all possible passwords.
Hotels Are Easy Targets
Hackers consider hotels as easy targets because travelers who stop at hotels generally don’t want to use their mobile data as it can be expensive. Most travelers these days look for hotels with Wi-Fis. The most common form of a hotel hotspot attack is the eavesdropping attack where the hacker sets up a bogus network and lures the victim to use it. And if you’re planning to stay in a hotel that’s not reliable or cheap, its network might be hacked to begin with.
How to Stay Safe When Using Hotel WiFI
If you can’t trust hotel Wi-Fi security, how do you stay online when traveling? Here are some tips.
- Don’t join just about any Wi-Fi network that is of the same name as your hotel. Instead, ask the hotel authorities for the Wi-Fi details.
- Check its protection details. A secure Wi-Fi is protected by WPA2. You can check this by going to the network properties and selecting the Wi-Fi.
- Check if the password works. Try connecting with the wrong password. If it still connects, then it’s rigged.
- Use a VPN. When you connect using a VPN, all the traffic is encrypted so even if the network is controlled by a hacker, they won’t be able to read anything that you send.
Best VPN to Use While Staying at an Hotel
There are numerous VPN service providers out there, all claiming to be the best. When it comes to top VPN to use at an hotel, you want to make sure that your VPN offers apps for devices you intend to use while staying away from home. These devices include PC, Mac, Android, iPhone, and iPad. You also want to verify that your VPN has a proper refund policy. That way, you can always get your money back just in case the VPN does not work as advertised. All in all, here are the best VPNs for hotels.
Other Ways to Stay Protected
Apart from VPN, here are some other ways you can use to stay protected.
- Keep your operating system up to date. Since all major software companies keep launching new updates with patches and bug fixes, updating your operating system will mean your device is safe.
- Always use HTTPS websites because it means they are safe. HTTPS should especially be used when you’re sharing your personal photos or videos.
- Don’t check your bank accounts or make online purchases while you’re on a public Wi-Fi.
- If you connect to the hotel Wi-Fi, make sure the option for file sharing is off. If file sharing is turned on, a hacker can gain access to the files on your device.
Why It’s Risky to Use Hotel WiFi – Final Thoughts
All these practices will help you stay safe but the best way to stay protected on a public Wi-Fi is a VPN. When you use a VPN, you can access your bank accounts and make online purchases because all your transactions are completely safe and even if a hacker has control over the network you’re on, they still cannot read your data.