When it comes to booking a hotel, wi-fi is an absolute must for most travelers. 80% of hotel guests surveyed said that internet access is crucial and they won't book a room without it. The survey also found that 65 % of hotel guests go online within seven minutes of checking in at their hotel, and one third of hotel guests request the wi-fi password as soon as they arrive. Of course, that’s not really a surprise. However, there are some important things to consider before logging in to your next hotel’s wi-fi.
1. Some hotels still charge for Wi-Fi.
Most major hotel chains offer guests free wi-fi, but 36% of hotels worldwide still charge for use. Generally, cheap hotels are more likely to charge for wi-fi. High-quality and safe wi-fi connections are expensive, and if you have opted for a budget-friendly accommodation this may mean that you miss out on certain perks, like free wi-fi. However, depending on the hotel, there may still be ways to get it. Some hotel loyalty programs offer complimentary wi-fi to frequent guests, and many offer free wi-fi in their lobby or business center.
2. Know the difference between an unsecured and secured Wi-Fi connection.
Speaking of safety, you’ve probably heard the terms “secured” and “unsecured” wi-fi. Did you know there's a big difference between them? Unsecured means un-encrypted and does not require a password,while a secure wi-fi connection usually requires a password and is encrypted. If you want to protect your data, look for a hotel with a secured wi-fi connection. Unsecured wi-fi is vulnerable to criminal hackers looking for data as it travels through the airwaves.
3. Take the right safety measures to protect your computer.
If you still want to stay at a hotel with an unsecured wi-fi network, there are ways you can access the internet without making your personal information, bank accounts, and other sensitive data open to hackers. One way to connect to wi-fi from your laptop or tablet is by creating a mobile hotspot from your smartphone. This is a good option if your cell phone has unlimited data.
4. Following these precautions will help you further protect your personal data when using hotel wi-fi.
Turn off your device’s wireless signal when you’re not using it. Using a VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is another effective way to safely access wi-fi. A VPN is a
private network that only you can access, hiding your important data from potential hackers. Confirm you’re accessing the hotel’s wi-fi network—not a fake one. Some data thieves prey on hotel guests by setting up nearby wi-fi networks that look like legitimate networks, but aren’t. So check with the front desk to verify you’re accessing the right network before you connect. Don’t use sensitive websites and mobile apps. One way to prevent thieves from stealing your passwords to social networking sites, online banking services, and other websites and apps when using hotel wi-fi is by avoiding them completely. It’s not convenient, but it’s a safe approach. Finally, install antivirus software. These programs can help prevent viruses and other malware from getting into your computer. Hotel wi-fi is convenient but it’s not always secure, even if it was set up with the best intentions.
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Ann Jones, CTC, MCC