Whether it be a vacation splurge or just a place to rest your head before an important meeting, hotels have worked hard to become an easy place to trust and feel secure. That’s why I was initially surprised when I read a recent article. A study by Trustwave found that 38 percent of known cyber breaches occurred through hotel wifi. You read that correctly – almost 40 percent of all known cyber breaches occurred in our home away from home! Additionally, many of these hotels are well-known chains including: Trump Hotels, Hard Rock Cafe, Hilton and Hyatt, to name a few. This is not just a lack of security at smaller hotels or motels, this is an issue affecting even the big dogs.
How to protect yourself from cyber breaches through hotel wifi:
So, what are you suppose to do? As a business traveler, you need to be prepared professionally in a moment’s notice, and conquer any personal responsibilities at the same time. Before you take the chance of using the free or cheap wifi at your hotel, make sure you take these precautions.
- Always keep firewall and anti-virus software on and up-to-date. This is your first line of defense, so make sure it’s a good one.
- Be wary of connecting to a duplicate or twin wifi network. Most often you are given a wifi name and password at check in. A common hacking tactic is creating an evil twin network that has a very similar name to the valid hotel wifi network. People often assume the name of network or simply choose the free wifi with the most signal strength. Always verify at the front desk before joining a new or unknown wifi network.
- Disconnect when not in use. Don’t leave your drawbridge open if it doesn’t need to be. Minimize your risk by disconnecting when you aren’t actively using the wifi.
- Avoid financial transactions when using free or public wifi. If this transaction is not avoidable or time sensitive, make sure the site you are using is secure. You can tell if it is secure based on the site url. A secure site’s url will begin with ‘https:’ instead of ‘http:’
- Use a company VPN, if possible. This is a company-created computer network that provides employees with remote access to company servers. It encrypts your online activity, so others can’t see what your doing and allowing access to company drives and software.
Most importantly, never let your guard down when it comes to potential cyber breaches. It may feel like an inconvenience at the time, but it could lead to a lifetime of repercussions.
Christopherson Business Travel is a corporate travel management company with more than 60 years of experience. Known for our consultative customer relationships and one-of-a-kind travel technology, we provide dedicated and superior travel management service.