More than one bug can be caught while traveling: Hotel wi-fi dangers

Business travelers won’t leave home without it.   Families take it with them like they would a wallet.  What is it?  It’s a laptop (netbook, tablet, or even an iPad.).  There are many reasons for taking it with us when we travel.  For some it’s staying on top of work and being available to at least respond to emergencies.  For many they can’t leave home or work without it.   Carrying our laptop, just like carrying our wallet comes with it’s own set of dangers.

While visiting my father he asked me to take a look at his laptop.  Ever since they went on vacation it just hadn’t “worked right.”   I asked him if he had his antivirus on “high” and did he use the hotel internet.   Finding out he used the free wi-fi at the resort where he and my mother were staying I knew that the search for a nasty little bug (and I don’t mean a bed bug) was going to take some time and possibly even the help of a professional.

The FBI recently released this statement about  hotel Wi-Fi dangers:

Malware Installed on Travelers’ Laptops Through Software Updates on Hotel Internet Connections

The FBI warns that “malicious actors are targeting travelers abroad through pop-up windows while they are establishing an Internet connection in their hotel rooms.”

How does this work?  Simply speaking, you are trying to connect to the wi-fi system in your hotel room.  For many that still means a cord (Ethernet) for others it is simply detecting the network of where you are staying.   The next step usually involves connecting to the hotel’s network by providing a password at a prompt on screen or on the internet browser window.  While you are doing this a screen pops up and says something like “you must update your …. (insert program here) in order to use this system.”   A click or two later and your laptop is going to encounter a “bug” or two.

The most convincing part of this program is, as the FBI warns, “The pop-up window appeared to be offering a routine update to a legitimate software product for which updates are frequently available.”

We’ve talked before about the dangers of internet use while traveling, especially when it pertains to wi-fi services.  Maybe the hotel wi-fi service is “spotty.”  Maybe your USB drive is stolen .  Maybe your restaurant or coffee shop that you are working from, like Starbucks, experiences a security breach.  Avoid putting your computer at risk by using your own hot spot connection.  Make sure to put your anti virus and malware programs on high.  Avoid third party cookies.   Check digital certificates before downloading any software program. Perform updates on your system before you leave and in most cases you shouldn’t have to do one again until after you return home.

If you have been a target of a malware “attack”  the FBI asks that you report it to IC3’s website at www.IC3.gov. The IC3’s complaint database links complaints together to refer them to the appropriate law enforcement agency for case consideration. The complaint information is also used to identify emerging trends and patterns and to help protect us from every emerging tech type scams.

Find out what other steps you can take to keep your computer safe, from Kapersky Labs.

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Comments are closed.