Protecting yourself in hotel networks

Like most of us, whenever I travel somewhere, I enjoy the convenience of a hotel that has in-room Internet connectivity. It’s essential to keep up with email while on the road, and at times, I’ve had to resort to logging in from Internet cafes. Though inconvenient, to their credit, the Internet cafes I visited in Poland relieved the inconvenience somewhat with the availability of beer. Nonetheless, on the other side of the world earlier this year, I was much relieved to find hotel Internet availability in Macau, China.

But was it secure? Did the hotel in Macau have a firewall and anti-malware protection? Were the desk clerks spending their spare time reading my outgoing emails? Who knows? For that matter, the Internet cafes pose the same questions. But, the convenience is so great, and the need for email while traveling is so necessary, sometimes we overlook the inherent risks of logging in from an unknown network.

Oh, so you say, that’s only because I was traveling in foreign countries? Surely hotels in the good ole USA wouldn’t subject their guests to such risks? Think again. A study recently published by Cornell University showed that most hotels in the US are not prepared to protect guests from Internet security risks. According to the study, many of the hotels surveyed have flaws in their network topology, and do not guarantee the privacy of their guests while online. Most of the networks were found to be vulnerable to attack, and the authors of the study were able to break into 33 of 38 wireless hotel networks. According to the study, it is very easy for hackers to gain access to other guests’ computers in a hotel network, and view all unencrypted information going into, and out of the network, including email messages and passwords. Read the rest of this article>>

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