Protecting guests’ online privacy as important as ever
 
Protecting guests’ online privacy as important as ever
16 OCTOBER 2020 7:30 AM

Hotels having fast and reliable Wi-Fi connections are an absolute must, but so is making sure guests can connect securely.

In response to the overall lack of demand thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, many hotel companies have encouraged people who are working remotely to change things up by working from a hotel room. Similarly, some people are finding ways to work safely from hotels’ public spaces because other public accommodations are closed.

While these are useful services to guests and the public at large, the FBI recently issued a warning about hotels’ Wi-Fi networks as more people are working remotely from hotels.

“The hotel environment involves many unaffiliated guests, operating in a confined area, and all using the same wireless network. Guests are largely unable to control, verify or monitor network security. Cyber criminals can take advantage of this environment to monitor a victim’s internet browsing or redirect victims to false login pages,” the warning reads.

The FBI also warned about an “evil twin attack” in which hackers create their own Wi-Fi network and give it a name similar to the hotel’s legitimate network, hoping to confuse guests into connecting to theirs instead to have direct access to guests’ computers.

The FBI points out that hotel Wi-Fi networks are created with guest convenience in mind, which makes sense given having a Wi-Fi network that’s complicated to join is going to frustrate guests. However, having their personal or work information stolen from them would be a worse experience.

This warning from the FBI isn’t great news for hotels. It points out a very real vulnerability that could absolutely hurt guests. While not every guest is going to see this warning directly or through other reporting, it could still catch plenty of people’s attention, and any loss of business now is worse than under normal circumstances.

There’s been a great deal of attention on the hotel industry as a whole needing to improve hotel Wi-Fi speeds and bandwidth to meet guests’ ever-increasing demand for fast and reliable internet access. The industry also needs to focus on making sure that when guests connect to their networks, those networks won’t open them up to cyberattacks.

While it will take time to make networks more secure without complicating the process, hoteliers in the meantime can make sure guests are at least connecting to the official network. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve checked into a hotel without being told, in person or in writing, the name of the hotel’s network. Oftentimes the answer is obvious when looking at the available networks, but I have at times seen similarly named networks and had to double check with the front desk.

Providing fast and reliable Wi-Fi is one part of the service hotel companies need to provide. The other part is protecting guest privacy. You don’t want thieves being able to access your guests’ rooms, so why should their online presence be any different?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below or reach out to me at bwroten@hotelnewsnow.com or @HNN_Bryan.

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