I bet one of the very first things you will do you when you check into your hotel on spring break vacation will be connecting to the local Wi-Fi network. You’ll choose the one with the hotel’s name or that most resembles it. Bingo! You assume your data is safe — but now cyber criminals are imitating the Wi-Fi at your hotel to steal your personal data. And they have new tricks to make it even tougher to spot.
Yes, the threat is real and a big round of applause to the NBC’s Today Show for recently bringing this important security message to mainstream media.
The show went onsite to the pool at a hotel. With their permission, a fake Wi-Fi network with a very similar name to the true Wi-Fi access point was created. The signal was very strong. What happened? Hotel guests around the pool and even down on the beach started joining the fake network, thinking it was real. And when another fake network was created — this one with the same exact name as the real hotel network — guests’ phones starting auto-joining it without their owners even touching their phones! Crazy!
The “hacker” could see everything the guests were doing on their smartphones over Wi-Fi and was able to intercept email username/password pairs, credit card numbers.
This is a great educational opportunity to teach people some of the risks of using public Wi-Fi. So what can you do to protect yourself while on vacation?
- Forget the hotel’s Wi-Fi and go onto a 3G or 4G cell carrier when you want to go to your bank site or make an online purchase with your credit card. It’s much more secure. After you’re done, you can go back to the hotel’s Wi-Fi, no worries.
- Shut off your phone’s auto-join function. Every hour or two on a public Wi-Fi network, adjust your phone settings to forget the network, and then log back in again.
- Every now and then, log onto the public Wi-Fi with the wrong password. If you can get on anyway, that’s a sign that someone is monitoring you and you’re not secure.
- Get the best protection for your mobile device. Get ZoneAlarm.
It is the best security app that protects your smartphone from malicious apps and Wi-Fi attacks. It allows you to connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots safely for it’s the only one to rank them for your comfort. This way you can shop, bank, and enjoy your favorite social media while guarding your credentials.
Have a safe spring break! Be also safe online when you get there!