New Travel Nightmare: Hotel Network Malware

At a hotel? Watch out for the security of your computer.

Whether you’re staying for business or pleasure, hotels will usually have a wireless network set up for your convenience. While most users may think this is just a nice and maybe necessary amenity, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is warning all travelers to look out for fake software updates on these networks that could infect your computer with malware. When using any Wi-Fi connection, you should be using a layered security approach to make sure your computer and data remain safe on a possibly shaky network.

“Recently, there have been instances of travelers’ laptops being infected with malicious software while using hotel internet connections,” the Internet Crime Complaint Center said in a warning about this new, dangerous malware situation. “In these instances, the traveler was attempting to set up the hotel room internet connection and was presented with a pop-up window notifying the user to update a widely-used software product. If the user clicked to accept and install the update, malicious software was installed on the laptop. The pop-up window appeared to be offering a routine update to a legitimate software product for which updates are frequently available.”

The IC3, as it is known, offered some advice for travelers taking their laptops with them into hotels, including carrying out all software updates before linking up to any outside Wi-Fi networks, checking the author or digital certificate of any download or update you are prompted about, and downloading software updates direct from a vendor’s website when on the road. Obviously there is no catch-all solution, but these should all go a long way toward helping people stay safe when they are on the road.

It’s clearly a new age of travel and a new age of technology, with new worries. Bloomberg reported that Chinese hackers have been all over companies in the United States as of late, stealing from as many as 760 firms, including through a compromise of iBahn, a broadband service offered to guests of hotel chains like the Marriott. While hotels and other businesses that carry free or paid Wi-Fi for users now need to be more careful about what comes on their network, those who bring their laptop around need to be extremely cognizant that these threats are out there.

Have any stories of malware on the road? Resent having to think about security while trying to get away from it all? Drop us a line in the comments and let us know.

Scott Cornell

When he’s not knee deep in blogging and all things tech, Scott spends his free time playing ultimate Frisbee and watching foreign films. An expert in emerging tech trends, Scott always has his ear to ground for breaking news related to IT security.