The FBI has issued a public service announcement (PSA) about the dangers of hotel WiFi, reminding people to take special precautions when using them for work while traveling, and pointing out that hotel security protocols are relaxed for reasons of operability and comfort: passwords are changed infrequently, login systems tend to use data that is easy to obtain such as the last name and room number, simulation of nodes with similarly named networks that guests enter by mistake, traffic monitoring, etc., all of which make them a paradise for crooks.
Even though more and more WiFi networks are adopting https protocols by default or even using WPA3 certification (published in January 2018 but requiring routers to be changed or updated where possible), we are still vulnerable to attacks: we arrive tired at our hotel and choose the wrong WiFi on a menu with several similar-sounding networks, thus offering an attacker easy access to our devices. When handling sensitive information or accessing sensitive services such as banks, etc., a good tip is to avoid hotel or airport WiFi and instead connect through our smartphone, or to use a VPN — bearing in mind that a decent VPN costs money (nodes, updated protocols, security, etc.) and that free ones, in most cases, are not recommended.
TorrentFreak’s annual “Which VPN Providers Really Take Anonymity Seriously” update reviews the security, features and policies of the best-known VPN providers, and is a good place to start. I have been using ExpressVPN for several years now whenever I am away from home with very good results, from very different places in the world and with practically no problems: reasonably fast (you always lose some speed when using a VPN), functional even from countries that regulate or prohibit its use, and in addition, it does not block any type of traffic or store any type of record of my connections.
Along with password managers, a good VPN is one of the security practices I recommend to my students every year, and it is also a topic that I write about on a regular basis. If you travel a lot or if you frequently connect to networks whose security practices you don’t know, then for less than a hundred bucks a year you can save yourself a whole lot of time and possible trouble.
(En español, aquí)
This post was previously published on medium.com.
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project and want a deeper connection with our community, please join us as a Premium Member today.
Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS. Need more info?
Photo credit: iStockPhoto.com