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Travelers Beware: Hotel Wi-Fi Could be Open to Attack

By May 13, 2015March 7th, 2023Blog, Technology News

business_travelers_beware_75182_142407It’s convenient, it saves you and your company a few dollars over your personal or business mobile hot spots and it just pops up when you flip open your laptop or look at your tablet or smartphone. You may not even think twice before hopping on the Wi-Fi at your hotel, but perhaps you should be more cautious.

Hotel Wireless Routers Vulnerable
Recently security firm Cylance warned that up to 80 percent of the top hotel chains around the globe may be exposing their guests who use the hotel Wi-Fi to the possibility of being hacked. Routers used were discovered to put guests using Wi-Fi at risk due to an authentication flaw in the firmware. This problem could permit malware to be installed upon any device accessing the internet via the hotel’s Wi-Fi. The company providing the suspicious gateway is ANTLab which markets its popular InnGate or IG 3100 routers to many top hotel chains.

Luxury Hotel Hacks
Kaspersky Labs noted that a number of attacks were suffered by guests of several high-end Asian and US hotels. Again, the exposure was related to compromises in the Wi-Fi system offered to the customers.

ANTLab Update
A software update has been made available by ANTLab since the CERT Coordination Center team made the vulnerability known officially. Some protection has also been afforded by having the routers placed behind a firewall, although an attack is still possible if the entity is close to the target.

Ways To Limit Your Exposure With Hotspots
Using your own or a business issued mobile hot spot configured securely is probably a better choice than using the hotel’s Wi-Fi. Although it uses up data against your quota, your laptop and other mobile devices will be under your control, and experts recommend this set up as a better choice.

Use VPNs
Another option is to use the hotel Wi-Fi through a virtual private network or VPN. A variety of choices can be found for download for a reasonable cost or for free. A VPN protects data and keeps attackers from eavesdropping through the use of encryption.

Hotel Industry Reactions
Some hotels attempted to block their guests personal hot spots as a way to increase use of their “for pay” Wi-Fi services, The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) considers the blocking to be a violation of the Communications Act and has promised very aggressive investigation of hotels and resorts that use blocking technology.

The excuse used by the hotel industry is that the personal hotspots cause cyber threats and identity theft. Guests and computer companies complained and resisted this tactic causing the industry to back away from this theory.

If You Must Use Hotel Wi-Fi
Make sure the gate way is truly the hotel Wi-Fi and not a hacker mirror. Talk to the hotel clerk to ensure you have been given the correct network name and password. Avoid banking and financial transactions. Wait to send sensitive emails or important documents until you can use a safer access point.

Jason Manteiga

Jason J. Manteiga, Vice President of Olmec Systems, has been part of the company for over the past 20 years. He believes that having a great work environment and supportive team, is the ultimate key to success. Since being in the IT realm for over 25 years, Jason, along with Olmec Systems, has been on the Inc. 5000 “List of America’s Fastest Growing Private Companies” and Channel Futures MSP 501 “Top Managed Service Providers in North America,” along with other awards and nominations. Jason earned his Bachelor Degree in Information Systems from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He also holds certifications in Microsoft MCSE, VMWare VCP, and Cisco CCNA. In his spare time, Jason is a contributor for The Center for Social & Legal Research (Privacy Exchange) and a member of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce. His hobbies include cycling and kayaking. He currently lives in New Jersey with his wife, two daughters and son.