Hotel WiFi Security: How To Use Free Wireless Internet Safely
Using hotel Wi-Fi is risky business. The NSA warns that connecting to a public hotspot that the owner hasn’t configured securely can put your private data at risk. When it comes to accessing open wireless networks, safety and security are critical. Let’s examine the dangers of using hotel Wi-Fi and discuss how you can connect safely and securely.
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Is hotel Wi-Fi safe?
Without good security, joining any public wireless network isn’t safe. When you connect to hotel Wi-Fi, you leave yourself vulnerable to disreputable business owners who may seek to violate your privacy. On top of that, hackers often target hotel Wi-Fi and, with the right access, could intercept your traffic and steal private information.
What are the risks of using hotel Wi-Fi?
Here are some of the risks of using hotel and other public Wi-Fi hotspots:
- Intercepted private information, including login credentials, credit card numbers, and messages
- Fake evil twin Wi-Fi networks
- Spyware, malware, and other malicious software
- Monitored browsing activity
As you can see, a malicious operator who controls a public wireless access point could do a lot of damage to anyone who connects without protection.
When you join unsecured hotel Wi-Fi, anyone with the right knowledge and access could intercept your private information. Stolen login credentials mean compromised accounts, which can lead to additional sensitive information falling into the hands of hackers. Furthermore, if someone intercepts your credit card details, the financial repercussions could be devastating.
Sometimes the Wi-Fi you’re connecting to may not even belong to the hotel. While the real network may be safe, a fake evil twin version could trick you into connecting to an access point controlled by hackers.
Compromised public Wi-Fi hotspots could also redirect you to sites containing malicious software. Once you have malware on your device, hackers could continue to monitor you even after you disconnect from the network.
Whenever you connect to hotel Wi-Fi, administrators could be tracking your browsing habits. Do you really want some stranger looking over your shoulder as you browse the internet? Most of us don’t. Evidently, hotel Wi-Fi is far from safe when you fail to take the proper precautions.
Is hotel Wi-Fi secure for banking?
Hotel Wi-Fi is neither safe nor secure when it comes to banking. Ideally, you should only ever perform financial transactions when connected to a network you know and trust. As a general rule, you should always avoid undertaking any sensitive tasks when connected to public Wi-Fi.
Can hotels see what you are browsing?
Yes. Any network administrator could use monitoring software to track your browsing activity and could even intercept passwords and other sensitive information. If you value your privacy, you shouldn’t use unsecured hotel Wi-Fi for anything but the most basic tasks.
How to stay safe on hotel Wi-Fi
Here’s how you can use hotel and other public Wi-Fi networks safely:
- Enable firewalls and other built-in security settings on your devices
- Don’t perform any sensitive tasks, such as banking or inputting any private information
- Avoid logging in to sites, apps, or other platforms whenever possible
- Always keep software up-to-date to patch known security issues
- Use a good VPN
Most modern operating systems come with solid security features already installed. If you’re using a laptop, you should ensure that you’ve enabled your device’s firewall and any other relevant security settings.
Here’s how to enable the firewall in macOS:
- Go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Firewall
- Unlock the Security padlock
- Click Turn On Firewall
Here’s how to enable the firewall in Windows 11:
- Go to Settings > Privacy & security > Windows Security
- Select Firewall and network protection
- Click Public network and toggle Microsoft Defender Firewall on
Is it safe to use hotel WiFi with a VPN?
Using a VPN is one of the safest ways to access the internet when using hotel Wi-Fi. An encrypted connection means that snoops can’t monitor your traffic and intercept sensitive information, such as login credentials and banking information. You should always use a VPN when connecting to public Wi-Fi.
What’s the best VPN for hotel Wi-Fi?
Ideally, you should opt for a VPN that provides AES-256 encryption, doesn’t log your activity, and includes a kill switch so nothing can compromise your connection. VeePN’s top-tier VPN service offers all of this and everything else you need to use hotel Wi-Fi safely.
How to safely use hotel Wi-Fi with a VPN
Here’s how you can make using hotel Wi-Fi safe with VeePN:
- Download, install, and run VeePN
- Go to Advanced Preferences
- Check Enable Automatic WiFi Protection
- Turn the VPN on
As well as encrypting your traffic, VeePN will warn you any time your device tries to connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot. Remember, you should only ever join a network that you know and trust.
Make using public Wi-Fi as safe as possible
Using hotel and other public Wi-Fi networks may not be safe, but you can mitigate much of the risk by following good security practices and utilizing a reliable VPN.
Hackers prefer easy targets. Sometimes you can’t avoid connecting to hotel Wi-Fi, but that doesn’t mean you have to make intercepting your private information easy. If a hacker really wants to scam you, you should at least make them work for it.