Travelers, Beware: New Malware Strikes Hotel Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi connections have long been a source of potential danger to their users, and a new wave of malware attacks has made the threat even more real. Believed to be the work of foreign operatives, this malicious software is specifically meant to infect computers and devices that connect over hotel Wi-Fi.
The attacks originally began in hotels throughout Europe, but have now spread to other parts of the world. Intended to steal usernames and passwords as travelers access their accounts, the hackers mainly seek out targets such as business people, who potentially have access to highly sensitive accounts.
Using a variation of software stolen from the US government, hackers first create a fake connection that sounds legitimate, sometimes masking the name of the actual hotel or restaurant. When users connect, they are infected with EternalBlue, which was also used in the large-scale WannaCry ransomware attack.
There are things that travelers or other public Wi-Fi users can do to protect themselves from this and other malicious connections:
1. Keep your own protective software up-to-date
Whether you regularly use public Wi-Fi or not, it’s important to have strong antivirus software that not only scans your computer regularly but also blocks threats as they try to install.
2. Confirm the connection
Anytime you’re relying on a shared connection hosted by a business, ask for the name of the connection from an employee. In your list of available connections, you might see “Radish Hotel Guest,” but you might also see “Raddish Hotel Guest” if someone is trying to spoof the connection. Verify the name before you sign on.
3. Save the sensitive surfing for home
When you connect in public, it’s a good idea to avoid any sensitive accounts, like online banking, credit card logins, or even your email account unless you absolutely have to. In the event that you must connect to these accounts over an unsecured Wi-Fi, it’s a good idea to use a virtual private network, or VPN, to keep other people from seeing your activity.