Holiday Travelers: Beware Your Hotel Network

If you're traveling overseas this holiday season, take extra precaution when it comes to logging in to your hotel's Wi-Fi network. The FBI has recently seen an increase in incidents involving hotel patrons accidentally downloading malware.

Here's how the scam works. The guest logs into the hotel's Wi-Fi network. A pop-up window appears on the guest's computer, prompting them to update a very common type of software. If the victim decides to install the "update," they install malware instead.

The FBI didn't say what country or countries have hosted most of these incidents, nor did they say what brand of software was being referenced in the malicious pop-ups. But regardless, there are a few takeaways for anybody who travels at home or abroad this holiday season.

If you must update your software while you're traveling, make sure you do it by visiting the vendor's site and finding the update there, rather than just responding to a pop-up notification. And make sure you're doing it over a secure network. A hotel Wi-Fi network might be password-protected, but chances are it won't be difficult for a determined hacker to crack.

The second takeaway is simply to be very careful about what you do with your computer while you're traveling. Cafes, hotels, and airports are all very popular places for hackers to set up open networks designed to attract people who are sloppy about security.

If you're on an open network, don't check your bank account or purchase anything online—restrict your browsing to benign sites that don't require a login. And if you're traveling on business, be extra careful—business travelers are a particularly ripe target for corporate espionage.

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