Hotels around the world, especially the most upmarket, now come with free Wi-Fi included, but it’s easy to assume that when you connect to the hotel network, your data is secure. Cyber-crime experts have recently revealed a threat that targets hotel networks to steal information and even delete confidential data from hotel residents. The so-called ‘Darkhotel’ movement is believed to have been active for the past seven years and works with expert accuracy to target even the most secure networks.
The cybercriminals begin by infiltrating hotel web networks, through a variety of methods. Once they have access to a network, the infiltrators select a wealthy victim and wait until they connect to the Wi-Fi network, ultimately entering their password and username at the login. They typically target the networks in luxury hotels, and can effectively handpick their victims.
Tips on how to avoid non-secure hotel wifi networks;
To minimise this risk experts advise that travellers should avoid updating software or clicking files when not on trusted networks. It’s also sensible to keep antivirus software up-to-date, before leaving home. Infiltrators can trick the victim into downloading and installing a file which pretends to be an update for legitimate software, such as the Google Toolbar, Adobe Flash or Windows Messenger. The victim unknowingly downloads the hotel update, only to infect their device with Darkhotel’s software already operational.
Another alternative is to ditch the hotel’s free wifi in favour of complete control. With a data SIM card from providers like dataroam.co.uk and a portable router (mifi device) it is possible to create your own 3G hotspot in a hotel abroad and thereby connect safely and directly to the local mobile network. Data SIM cards can be used directly in unlocked devices or in a mifi router and can provide small or large data bundles depending on your needs. Prices start at as little as £39.00 for 1GB of mobile data and, with added security and peace of mind, it makes sense to think about it as an alternative way to stay connected.
Read more about Darkhotel hacking on the BBC here to make sure you know how to access and surf the internet safely in your hotel.