Hackers target hotel wifi
Travellers who log on to their hotel’s wi-fi network are at risk of having their credit card, bank account, address book and password details stolen by criminal hackers.
In an alert sent out last week, the FBI-affiliated Internet Crime Complaint Center said criminals are hiding data-mining programmes in innocuous-looking pop-up windows, usually disguised as a software upgrade. Unwitting hotel guests accept the upgrade, granting hackers access to all their confidential data.
Chain or franchise hotels are especially vulnerable, according to the cyber-security specialist Trustwave. “Standardisation of computer systems among franchises is common,” said the company, “and if a security deficiency exists within a specific system, deficiencies will be duplicated among the entire franchise base.”
Last December, American officials revealed that Chinese hackers had found a back door into wi-fi networks operated by iBahn, which lists Marriott and Jumeirah among its hotel clients. That attack concentrated on stealing sensitive commercial information from business guests, but there is increasing evidence that cyber criminals are now trawling general travellers’ computers for credit-card details. The answer, said the FBI, is to reject software upgrades when you’re on the road.
(Sunday Times, Travel Section, 2012. 05.13.)