Avoiding the security risks of hotel Wi-Fi

What kind of business traveller are you? Do you check into the hotel, connect to the Wi-Fi, get as much done as quickly as possible and then head out to experience a new city? Or do you settle down with room service to do a day’s work that you have missed? Either way it is pretty certain that the security risks are not on top of your mind when logging on to the hotel Wi-Fi.

Slow Hotel Wi-Fi

However, research has shown that as much as 38% of Wi-Fi hacking takes place on hotel networks. This is a staggering figure, but as recently as March this year Wired Magazine reported on a significant vulnerability in hotel Wi-Fi routers that exposed thousands of guests.

When you think about it, it is simple to understand why hackers would pick this route. Who really checks on the people sitting in the lobby of a hotel? And not many hotels ask for the occupation of guests, and even if they did hardly any guests are likely to admit being a hacker! Yet inside the hotel walls hackers can illegally gain access to huge volumes of sensitive business information.

Believe it or not, hacking is far simpler than one might think. As stated by Glenn Wilkinson, a senior security analyst at SensePost, "With a cheap Wi-Fi adapter and some free software anyone can listen in on all conversations your phone or laptop is having with the outside world". The ease of hacking teamed with ANTlabs InnGate software vulnerability, which affects 277 hotels in 29 countries leads to a realistic risk of being targeted in the hotel environment.

These hackers are not ‘script kiddies’, infiltrating your connection for the recognition and sheer buzz. These hackers are 'black hats' who are actively attempting to steal a person’s online ID with access to company servers, emails and critical business information, ultimately for financial gain. This type of hacking places both the individual and the employer at threat. By accessing business information from hotel Wi-Fi – essentially trying to keep up with the job whilst travelling – the employee may be placing business information at risk. Until the hospitality industry invests significant time and money into implementing security solutions such as UTM (Unified Threat Management), joining hotel Wi-Fi remains an uncertain option.

Goodspeed to the rescue

This is one of the reasons why our Goodspeed device is built around Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) and Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) security, the global standard for secure access over Wi-Fi. Furthermore, because the device communicates over the mobile network, it benefits from the security that is built into 3G mobile networks. In an interview given to the Daily Telegraph in 2014, Neil Cook, chief technology officer at Cloudmark, pointed out that: "A lot of people don’t realise that the SIM card in your phone is so much more secure than an internet-enabled service where you just use usernames and passwords that get compromised continuously."

Furthermore, of course, Goodspeed users will be sharing their Wi-Fi connection only between their own multiple devices or with trusted work colleagues, which further ensures that the risk of a hack is reduced compared to open Wi-Fi networks where any number of devices and people can connect. So in addition to enjoying hassle free, low cost data roaming in more than 60 countries around the world, Goodspeed users can also ensure that they are significantly reducing the risk of being the victim of a security breach when staying in hotels.

Of course a further benefit to Goodspeed users is the ability to be productive in down time between meetings without having to seek out, connect to and possibly pay for a Wi-Fi connection. Goodspeed users can be productive in a taxi, in a coffee shop and even in a customer’s reception whilst waiting for a meeting to begin. Goodspeed not only creates peace of mind with regards to security but it also allows for complete flexibility, removing the danger of insecure Wi-Fi and simplifying the hectic business travellers’ lifestyle.

So to answer the question posed in the first paragraph, there is a third type of traveller, one that has spent the time between meetings working efficiently so that, when they arrive at a hotel they can securely catch up on any final business from the working day and then immerse themselves in the culture of the city they are staying in.

-Hanne @Goodspeed