When traveling do you use the hotel's Wi-Fi? If so, you should think carefully before you use it on your next trip. Hackers are using security vulnerabilities in hotel Wi-Fi to steal passwords and other personal information.

They do this by getting to you download a software update when you try to get online using the hotel Wi-Fi. The downloaded software is designed to steal your information or damage your computer.

Take Precautions

When traveling or even about town, using public Wi-Fi networks pose risks. If you must use a public Wi-Fi network then take precautions:

  • Use an encrypted Wi-Fi network. The encryption type is usually displayed in the available network list. WPA2 is the strongest encryption type.

  • Login or send personal information only to websites that are encrypted. Look for https in the web address (the s stands for secure). Each page you visit should be secure. If a page just shows http then logout.

  • Don't stay logged in to any accounts. Logout when you are done.

  • Use a unique password for every website. Using the same password for multiple sites could allow access to all those sites if the password is stolen from just one.

  • Pay attention to the alerts from your web browser. Many web browsers will alert you to questionable websites or malicious downloads.

  • Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN encrypts traffic between your computer and the Internet. You can get a personal VPN account from a VPN provider or you may have access to a VPN through your employer. Or you may want to use a mobile hotspot (available through your mobile provider). It encrypts traffic between your device and the Internet and uses the cellular network instead of a public Wi-Fi network.

  • Use a free browser plug-in such as HTTPS-Everywhere (available for Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Android). It forces encryption on popular websites that don't use encryption.

The bottom line: Protect your personal information by thinking twice before using public Wi-Fi networks.

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