What’s one of the first things you do when you check into a hotel? Log into the hotel WiFi? You’re not alone. In fact, 65% of hotel guests log into the free hotel WiFi network within 7 minutes of arriving. Unfortunately, hackers have figured out a way to take advantage of this common occurrence. By creating fake WiFi hotspots that look just like the standard hotel WiFi network, they are able to lure unsuspecting guests in and intercept their personal information.
What is a Fake WiFi Network?
A fake WiFi network, referred to in the technology industry as an “Evil Twin”, is a WiFi access point set up by a cybercriminal, and designed to mimic an otherwise legitimate WiFi network. The fake WiFi hotspot often uses the same name and password as a secured hotel WiFi network, or a variation of the name that might even be more appealing.
For example, if you see two options for WiFi that look the same, but one has the word “Free” or “High-Speed” or “Secure” in front of it, you’re probably more likely to choose the latter. Unfortunately, that just might be an Evil Twin.
Once you’ve logged into this fake hotspot, the hackers have access to all transmitted data. If you log into your email or social media accounts, they will be able to obtain your passwords and see everything you type. Making an online purchase or doing online banking? They now have access to your credit card information and financial information.
How to Spot a Fake Hotel WiFi Network
Since these Evil Twins are set up to look just like a legitimate hotel WiFi network, distinguishing between the two can be challenging. However, there are a few identifying characteristics that you can use to spot a fake.
- The Exclamation Point. Have you ever looked at your list of available networks and noticed an icon of an exclamation point inside a shield next to one of the names? This icon is a warning that the network is not encrypted, and any information you transmit can be accessed.
- No Password Required. Most hotel WiFi networks require you to enter a password and automatically redirect to a terms of service page. If you are immediately able to browse freely, this could be a bad sign.
- HTTP vs HTTPS. When entering personal or financial information, including passwords, check that the website URL starts with HTTPS. If the “s” is missing, your information is not encrypted or secure.
- Slow Speeds and Error Messages. Most hotel WiFi networks are fast and reliable today. If you notice your connection is unusually slow, or if your apps stop working or display error messages, you make be connected to a fake WiFi network.
Tips to Avoid Hotel WiFi Scams
To protect yourself against fake hotel WiFi scams and hackers, follow these 4 simple rules for safeguarding your personal and financial information:
- Use your data plan when banking or shopping. Your cell carrier’s 3G and 4G networks are more secure than WiFi.
- Ask your hotel or resort for the exact name of their guest WiFi network. Don’t assume it will be easy to distinguish the real network from the fake one when you search in your WiFi settings.
- Turn off the “auto-join” function on your device so your phone doesn’t join a fake WiFi network without you even knowing it.
- Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to encrypt your connection when using public WiFi, so hackers cannot intercept your information. Once reserved only for large corporations, personal VPN subscription services are now available to the general public.
WiFi Support for Hotels & Resorts
Are you a hotelier or resort owner concerned about fake WiFi scams on your property? Deep Blue Communications can help. We are a leading WiFi service provider for the hotel & hospitality industry. Contact us or call 1-844-554-3826 to learn more about our hotel WiFi services.