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Sunday, June 21, 2015
Don’t be Hacked Through Hotel Wi-Fi
Having access to public Wi-Fi networks while you are staying at hotels or convention centers is a convenient, often free, service that you can use to stay connected while traveling. However, computer security and online privacy can be severely compromised in these public locations when you connect to the Internet using unsecure devices. If you access public Wi-Fi networks at hotels on a regular basis, you need to know how to best protect yourself, your identity and your business from cyber hacking. Sign up with MyLife.com today to begin securing your online reputation and identity.
In March 2015, cyber hackers overcame the privacy guard of 277 different hotels, data centers and convention centers. This data breach spanned 29 different countries, including the United States. With a cyber-security warning detected by Cylance’s Sophisticated Penetration Exploitation And Research (SPEAR) team, Internet safety was restored that same day.
Unfortunately, this incident, which compromised hotel Internet privacy, was the second in the last six months alone. In November 2014, researchers working for Kaspersky found that a group of cyber hackers had been infiltrating Wi-Fi networks at luxury hotels for the previous four years. Nicknamed “Darkhotel,” these cyber attackers were looking specifically for information concerning nuclear research and the United States defense industry.
While the online privacy of the Darkhotel-targeted groups and information is extremely important to the well-being of the nation, it has less to do with the online reputation of the average citizen. However, the recent data breaches in hotels and convention centers directly affect personal online privacy protection, and the topic is important to anyone who travels regularly or who accesses public Wi-Fi networks. You need to be able to protect yourself and your online reputation, and MyLife.com is here to help you with the tools and comprehensive cyber protection you need whether you are at home or at a hotel.
Track Your Network Encryption
Whenever you send emails, post on social media or share digital photos or videos, you are sending personal information into the cyber world. If you shop online or use online banking, you are sharing personal financial account information over the Internet.
Most banking and shopping websites already use encryption processes to provide identity theft protection, but not all. Most likely, your hotel has updated to an encryption service to help prevent those who are not on the property from accessing the exclusive network. Make sure that you are accessing the hotel’s official network and not an impostor, which may open you up to identity theft or fraud.
Mobile apps, however, do not employ encryption services and often do not tap into the hotel network. This means that if you use a mobile app to shop with your credit card, conduct online banking services or access your social media management, your private information is most likely unsecure. This results in an advantage for potential online hackers.
Some hotel Wi-Fi hotspots do not employ encryption other than on the initial sign-in page. This means that hackers and other cyber criminals are able to see your personal information, private documents and any aspects of your online image that you share over a public Internet connection. Pay special attention as you navigate the Internet from your hotel to ensure that you are staying on an encrypted network.
Avoid File Sharing
The best way to protect your personal data and files is to avoid sharing them over your hotel network. First, make sure that your computer or mobile device’s firewall is turned on and functioning whenever you access hotel Wi-Fi. The firewall is responsible for permitting and denying traffic to and from your device, so it is your first line of defense against cyber threats.
Second, avoid all file sharing websites, such as DropBox, Google Drive and MediaFire, unless absolutely necessary. When you access these sites, you open yourself and your information to the possibility of hackers. If you absolutely must access file sharing websites, be conscious of the type of information you are sending across the hotel network.
Avoid Malware Updates at Your Hotel
Even if you are being careful about the types of data you are sending and are checking to see which websites may be encrypted for your safety, hackers have found other methods to trick you into accepting their invitations. One of the most common methods is through software updates.
Before you travel, be sure to thoroughly update your computer or other mobile device from home while on your secure network. If you do this, you will not be tempted to change your settings or update your software from your hotel. If your device prompts you to do an upgrade or change a software package while you are logged into the hotel network, it is most likely a malware indication, and you should avoid making this change.
Never Forget to Log Off and Forget the Network
No matter what Wi-Fi hotspot or other Internet network you access, you should always remember to log off the service when you are finished. In addition to logging off, you also need to instruct your device to forget the network entirely. By de-selecting the “Connect automatically when this network is in range” option on a Windows device or the “Remember networks this computer has joined” option on a Mac, your device will not automatically connect to your hotel network again.
This preventative measure ensures that your device is not unknowingly connected to the hotel network, giving hackers and other cyber criminals free access to your personal data and files. You will have control over when your device is connected, and that keeps you safe.
Just because you are traveling does not mean you need to be afraid of accessing and using your hotel Wi-Fi. With some simple precautions, you can feel comfortable using your hotel network, and MyLife.com makes that possible. By offering online reputation management and security essentials, you can rest assured that MyLife.com will provide you with a security or fraud alert at the first sign of trouble.