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Hotel WiFi Is Not Only Overpriced And Slow, It Can Also Harm Your Laptop, Says FBI

May 11, 2012 at 9:00 AM | by | ()

If you're reading this from a hotel right now, we sincerely hope you aren't one of the many travelers who have been recently assaulted by a new wave of hotel tech catastrophe: a computer virus disguised as a hotel WiFi login window.

The problem is exactly like it sounds. As per an FBI intelligence note released Wednesday: a newly-arrived guest logs onto the hotel's WiFi network when a pop-up window appears, asking to update a widely-used software product. When the guest clicks 'accept,' the computer then gets installed with malware.

Doggone it, as if we didn't already have enough troubles with these pesky WiFi connections!

This is something all hotel guests are advised to take precaution against. If something other than a regular WiFi login window (which typically asks for username and password and that's it) is popping up on your screen, do not accept it. In fact, it's probably best not to do any software updating at all while traveling, as it seems like authorities are still learning what this whole thing is about.

We know how much it would suck to get a virus while on a business trip, since without a laptop, it's certainly hard to get any business done.

And what a shame this is happening specifically in hotels—not hospitals or universities or bus stations, but hotels. Clearly, these hackers know that when not eating or sleeping (or rooftop-ing), hotel guests are particularly fond of whiling away the hours on our laptops.

And let's not forget what went down at a Courtyard by Marriott in Manhattan earlier in the year, when the hotel was accused of injecting code into webpages to enable ads to pop up.

Ultimately, any computer connected to the internet in a public place is always vulnerable to attack. We've heard stories of friends surfing Facebook in a Starbucks and hackers, sitting mere feet away, logging onto other people's accounts to steal their information. Indeed, one writer has vowed never to stay at a Comfort Inn after an incident in 2005, which he believes set his laptop on the downward spiral to virus-caused death.

Here's one tip the same writer offers, for those who think they may have already been hit:

"If you believe that you were hit – put your computer in hibernate or sleep mode until you can get expert help in repairing or restoring the system. Taking the system offline as fast as possible can prevent further data and damage in some cases.”"

As of now, no specific hotels have been singled out as more at risk than others. Which means it could really be any (and all) of them. So proceed with caution!

Has this ever happened to you? Is this going to stop you from wanting to connect to the hotel's WiFi network again? Or will you just take your chances? We wanna hear your thoughts!

[Photo: HotelChatter]

Archived Comments:

wifi in Hotels ? never

Be carefull after few wifi connections from my android smarfon in Egypt i was alerted about password fraud aplications by antirus <a href="http://android-digest.ru"> my android home</a>