Security experts warn that a lack of concern when using hotel Wi-Fi could place users at risk

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Research by UK broadband comparison website Broadband Genie has discovered more than half (58 per cent) of the British public aren’t concerned about being monitored when using hotel Wi-Fi.

When visiting hotels, 94 per cent of respondents stated they use the Wi-Fi. Security experts warn there are a variety of risks involved: from hackers, to the selling of data to brokers.

  • More than half of the public aren’t concerned about monitoring during use of hotel Wi-Fi
  • Expert warns of data brokers and hackers collecting and sharing personal information
  • 94 per cent of hotel visitors use the Wi-Fi: to check emails, social media, and to browse the web

Patrick Clover, founder of BLACKBX, a cloud-based Wi-Fi management controller, warns: “Don’t assume that if you have to ask for a password you are safe”

“Without security layers, any hacker can easily monitor activity. Without real encryption, all users on the same network are vulnerable to the host seeing all the traffic going to and from a user’s computer, including web history and passwords.”

The primary uses of the hotel Wi-Fi are checking emails, browsing the web, and logging on to social media. Such uses involve inputting and accessing a variety of personal information and passwords. When signing up to the Wi-Fi, respondents said giving away personal information and details as a drawback to hotel Wi-Fi (14 per cent).

When it comes to how common it is for hotels to monitor guests’ usage, Daniel B Brown, Security Consultant at FarrPoint, gives his insight: “This is dependent on the size of the organisation, but typically monitoring is used at a high level in order to ensure the performance of the Wi-Fi network.

“The active monitoring of which websites you visit is less common but this data is likely still collected for a number of reasons.

“This may be for security so they can block unwanted or malicious websites or if they are a larger organisation they may collect and sell this data to Data-Brokers.

“Data-Brokers like Acxiom have over 1500 pieces of information on over 700m consumers and it is very likely you will be one of those 700m.”

Rob Hilborn, Head of Strategy at Broadband Genie, said: “I think many go in on the assumption they are secure because they’ve paid for a service and are in a safe environment, where actually we should always be erring on the side of caution on any Wi-Fi connection that is not our own.

“Being vigilant and taking simple steps to secure yourself such as using a good VPN can go a long way to staying safe.

“If you dig into the terms and conditions of many of these WiFi networks you may be surprised at what you find.

“Hopefully with legislation such as GDPR coming in users will have greater protection when it comes to using such WiFi networks. Organisations will have to be upfront as to how personal data will be processed and used and able to clearly show how consent for this data was gained.”

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