Is it safe to use hotel WiFi? No. Here’s how you can protect yourself when on it

Samuel Walker Last updated: December 6, 2022 Read time: 15 minutes Disclosure

Hotels' WiFi security is insufficient. Still, you can use free internet there safely with tools like VPN alongside taking care of some best practices for online security. This post explains how you can protect yourself when on such networks.

Sneak peek at hotel WiFi security

Many hotels in major cities around the globe offer free WiFi hotspots that help travelers/guests stay connected with the online world. A hotel WiFi only requires logging in with a username and password to access the free internet service. While that sounds convenient, hotel WiFi security is always dubious. Most open networks are unsecured connections, hence the easy targets for hackers and spies. Therefore, adopting preventive measures, like using a reputable VPN, is crucial before connecting your device with a hotel WiFi.

A free WiFi connection is considered a luxury when you travel abroad and don’t want to subscribe to international roaming and mobile data. Yes, without WiFi, you might feel detached and unattended. But are you sure the wireless hotspot provided in your hotel room is safe and reliable to use?

By using unsecured WiFi, there’s a chance that you might end up exposing your bank accounts or your identity being stolen by a cyber-identity thief.

A few years back, you would only need to keep your wallet protected from thieves and secure your password while going out. Or, additionally, people had to make sure they do not lose their credit cards. Yes, that all is still essential.

But traveling today also requires you to keep yourself protected when using public WiFi. That pretty much justifies why people keep asking ‘Is hotel WiFi safe?’

It indeed is a legitimate query to make. This article will explain why hotel WiFi is not safe to use and what can you do to use any public WiFi safely. That includes the airport WiFi network, WiFi at cafes, and hotel WiFi hotspots.

The hidden deal behind free public WiFi connections

While traveling abroad due to office work or going out with family, it’s natural for people to visit shop malls and cafes. Free WiFi hotspot is probably what most of the visitors ask cafe owners first of all. Free WiFi is an absolute luxury when visiting foreign countries, both for office trips and family vacations.

According to some surveys, many tourists consider fast wireless internet facilities more vital than hotel laundry service, catering, or location. Nowadays, almost all hotels worldwide provide free WiFi access to their guests and market themselves with this specific facility.

However, the convenience of browsing the internet and streaming Netflix while relaxing in your hotel room has its price: a potential risk of cyber-attacks.

Is hotel WiFi a secure connection?

Is hotel WiFi a secure connection
(Unsplash)

As noted earlier, hotel WiFi security is inefficient, and hackers can easily exploit it. The lack of proper security is because your hotel’s main aim is to provide you a friendly and comfortable environment, and not stealthy cybersecurity.

Hotel management puts little or no effort into protecting their ‘open to all‘ WiFi networks.

While getting free access, guests are asked to create a log in password and username. Most guests enter their room or contact number, and a password gets created for that specific login device. The entire responsibility for the overall network security is one weak password, which practically is the same as having no password.

Many hotels entirely skip the authentication procedure, allowing malicious traffic from anyone or anywhere to connect to their free WiFi network. With the weak implementation and irregular monitoring of firewalls and improper data security, wireless networks remain vulnerable to malicious identity theft, cyber-attacks, and data leaks.

The biggest threat to your privacy is a cyber hacker’s ability to establish a silent bypass medium between your device and the WiFi access point. The user’s screen, notification, and activity are visible to the hacker, which he can intervene.

Is hotel WiFi reliable for banking transactions?

Free and unsecured WiFi connections are not recommended for banking transactions. If you have connected to unsecured WiFi, there is a high chance of your online activities getting monitored by hostile third parties, commonly known as cyber hackers.

Consequently, anyone who manages to intervene in an unsecured hotel WiFi connection can fetch your private data. That includes photos and other data on your device, login credentials, financial accounts history, and other personal information.

Unless you have not subscribed to a reliable VPN such as ExpressVPN or NordVPN and installed it on your device, don’t try to access your bank or other sensitive accounts on WiFi. In essence, avoid any online transaction while on a hotel WiFi unless you have proper protection.