If you’ve reached here searching all your way, “is it safe to use hotel Wi-Fi” with irresistible suspicions surrounding your mind, we have some good and bad news to share with you. It is understandable how, sometimes, it becomes unavoidable for you to use a public Wi-Fi service, especially when you’re on a trip. Then, the temptation to prefer hotel Wi-Fi over mobile data is mainly based on the fact that you don’t have to spend a dime for availing the public Wi-Fi service. But is it worth putting your security at risk to save your money?
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Can Your Hotel Guarantee Hotel Wi-Fi Security
No or fragile authorization
Hotels are not specialized in making your internet experience secure. Therefore, you are not supposed to shift blame to the management of your hotel if you end up getting your sensitive data stolen due to your own imprudent choice of using the unprotected network. Their main job is to provide you lodging with all comforts and perks included in the package. They offer you free Wi-Fi as an additional convenience that you have to use at your own risk.
However, in order to respond to the threats of cyber-security, some hotels have chosen to make every user go through the process of authorization. In this way, they make sure that no predator jumps in without prior permission. The visitors are asked to provide their room number and given a password which is, usually, weaker than the iceberg. Even an immature hacker can tear through it to break into your data and strip away your internet privacy at any time. To avoid getting involved in activities or sharing the data that you don’t think is shareable despite authorization.
However, there are still many other hotels that don’t even bother to prevent impermissible access through an authorizing process. This implies that everyone can join the network without any restriction which can put you to the most serious risks of data theft. Such unprotected networks are simply the hackers’ feast. They always remain on the lookout for anything that affords the opportunity of gaining unscrupulous control on you. Any sensitive pieces of information that they steal can be used as a bargaining chip or to support any of their dirty pursuits – that can ruin your life.
Therefore, it is simply advisable not to take the risk of using a public Wi-Fi at your hotel whether or not it is protected by an authorization if you love your privacy and know what it is worth.
Lack of proper encryption questions hotel Wi-Fi security
Do you know what lies between you and your provider (or an intermediary between you and the point of contact) to keep the information moving back and forth hidden? It is encryption that makes your information unintelligible for anyone having access to it along with masking your identity. However, what makes you highly vulnerable to security risks while using public Wi-Fi is the absence of data encryption. Due to lack of encryption, sniffers or snoopers can easily launch their attacks same as an armed bunch of robbers attack an unshielded passerby.
Lack of encryption also makes it easy for the hackers to sit between you and your point of contact as an intermediary and monitor every bit of information as it goes through the channel. Believe me, it is easier than you might imagine. This hacking tactic is among the most favourite activities in the cybercrime underworld. When this happens, you may end up in a huge loss as soon as you share anything that matters to them.
Hotel assisted crimes
This might sound incredible but your hotel may also be an accomplice to your data-theft. A professional gang of hackers namely DarkHotel Group has the luxury to easily trap their victims by partnering with hotels by luring them into a significant benefit. Hotels agree to compromise their network and let them intrude the hotspot to pave the path towards their cybercriminal objectives. Once granted access to the public router, they can easily distribute malware among the hotel users through phishing emails or any other methods. When the users click to these emails, predators receive the message with the details about the personal information of the users which may include your password.
What makes these groups stronger is the fact that there is no definite mechanism to detect them as they leave no traces. Even if you file a suit, agencies have not proper investigation method at their disposal and any effort on their part may be a shot in the utter dark. It makes your suffering even bitter. If you can imagine these consequences and how they can bring irreparable devastation, resist the temptation of using hotel Wi-Fi at any cost.
Do Hotels Monitor your Browsing?
Even though it is hard to be sure whether or not your hotel monitors your data, what still can make you shiver is the fact that they can. You may feel a little relieved to know that they remain blind to whatever data you exchange over the internet or whatever you stream or communicate. However, they still have a clear log of which websites you visited and how much time you spent on each of them. Now it is up to you to decide if you categorize this partial surveillance as a threat to your privacy or not.
Remember, the least information in the logs of your hotel can be enough for someone to find a clue about your browsing habits and build malicious plans to use it as a base to gain control on your life. What makes it even more appalling is the evidence of hotels being the party to cybercriminals in past. People who were robbed off their privacy in past by the hands of DarkHotl Group haven’t yet been able to shake off the traumatizing memories. Therefore, keep your guards up and avoid using hotel Wi-Fi especially when you are too eager to keep your browsing private.
Is Free Public Wi-Fi actually Free?
Some may argue that free browsing is an irresistible advantage that every visitor must like to grab. Yes, there is nothing more exciting than consuming something for free for some people. However, we must not fancy that everything that pretends to be cost-free has no hidden costs. Your hotel host-spot also has its hidden cost that you have to pay in the form of compromising your privacy. As you see from this perspective, it appears more of gambling than availing a free service, indeed. We don’t see a point in putting your privacy at stake for as frivolous advantage as killing a few hours.
Using Public Wi-Fi for Banking
It is common among hotel visitors to avail public Wi-Fi service in order to carry out online banking. They can make or receive payments or get engaged in online shopping activities. While doing so, they are unknowingly endangering their bank account security. As mentioned before, a hotel Wi-Fi service is open to data security threats and hotel Wi-Fi security exists in the name only. Snoopers and hackers are always on the watch-out for anything valuable and what can be more valuable for them than to access your bank account details, especially password.
Imagine what loss it can bring if a snooper keeps an eye on you as you type your account details including your account title and password. Stealing this information can cause your hard-earned money to flow from your account to your hacker’s account in no time. To avoid this fate, you’d be better off delaying your banking activities as long as you are back or using some safer way if you have some unavoidable needs.
How to Use Hotel Wi-Fi without Risking your Privacy and Security
What you can gather from the discussion so far is that hotel Wi-Fi is far from any concept of data security or privacy. Therefore, it comes down to you how you protect yourself and minimize the threats surrounding your browsing experience. We’ve have shared a few tips below to help you on how you can cut the odds of data-theft and privacy breach:
Never log into your bank or work account while using hotel internet service
One thing that you must avoid is to log into your accounts that can be tantalizing for hackers. Avoid accessing your dashboard from your hotel room if you are a remote worker. If you appear online to get in the loop with your team using an unprotected connection, it is paramount to put the security of the entire business or organization, of which you are a part, at potential risk.
Similarly, it is not safe to use your bank account while using a public Wi-Fi connection. We have already shed sufficient light on key risks of online banking over an open source internet connection. Therefore, it is always safer not to make the mistake of making a transaction or doing anything that can affect the security of your bank account.
Beware of unprotected hotel Wi-Fi security
If your hotel service provider does not bother to prevent unauthorized access to the network through a proper authorization process, it is better to stay away from using the connection. However, if you are so tempted for it being a free service, it is advisable not to get engaged in such browsing or streaming activities that you don’t like to get exposed. Some people think that incognito browsing can be the best alternative. However, incognito’s humble role is to prevent the cookies and not to let your browsing appear in history. It doesn’t go as far as to mask your online identity or protect your information from the critical threats of data-theft over an unprotected network. Therefore, keep your browsing activities in check as you venture into your hotel Wi-Fi.
Keep your firewall enabled
It can make but the negligible difference to your vulnerability whether your hotel management has an authorization process to accompany its free internet service or not. Even if your provider seems conscious about your privacy and gives you a secret key to ensure your protection, it is still as important as putting on the life-jacket before entering the seawater for a bath to make sure that your firewall is set up and enabled. It can sit between you and any hacker or snooper trying to overhear your information. With a firewall switched on, you cut chances of losing your privacy to almost half. However, it never serves as a military grade foolproof security mechanism.
Enable data encryption
Remember, it is information that gives hackers or snoopers clue about your browsing or streaming habits. You cannot expect that anyone spying on you cannot understand what they spot unless you make that information unintelligible for them. Only a data encryption service can do this favour. Once your data encryption becomes active, your predators will end up scratching their heads.
However, the question arises on how to encrypt your data. Simply, subscribe for a reliable Virtual Private Networking (VPN) service because VPN creates a data-tunnel to route the information between you and your ISP. It offers a strong defence against all types of cyber-security threats, be it snooping, phishing, sniffing, or any other.
Choosing the Right VPN
After having learned as to how a VPN can safeguard you against potential threats, your next question would be, “which VPN service to avail?” What we strongly recommend is Ivacy Business VPN. It comes with military-grade security powered by its 256-bit data encryption security gateway. At the same time, it offers you access to all unauthorized or geo-blocked channels and torrenting libraries thanks to its 400+ servers. Ivacy’s incredible performance has earned it the best award for the category of “Fastest VPN” in 2019 from BestAwards.com. Not only this, but it also received applause at the same show for winning second prize for the categories of “Best Overall” and “Best Value”. Hence, it is one of the names in the industry that you can trust with your eyes closed not only to heighten your hotel Wi-Fi security but also to enjoy uninterrupted access to your favourite stuff anywhere and anytime.
Published on October 22, 2019