Is hotel WiFi safe to use or secure? Is there any difference whether I use a free or paid hotel WiFi? We unravel the things you never knew about using hotel WiFi, and about logging on when you are on the road.
Hotel WiFi is requirement that is almost "non-negotiable" for most travelers today. In fact, we would almost definitely avoid a hotel if it completely does not offer WiFi on its hotel premises.
When asked which hotel services or offering is of top importance to guests, a Research+Data Insights survey revealed that complimentary hotel Wifi is more important than Breakfast and Parking. Another survey showed that guests regard free, high speed WiFi as the most important amenity in hotel rooms.
Why is hotel WiFi so important?
Having access hotel WiFi means that travelers can continue to stay in contact with family, friends, and loved ones. Happy guests mean overall more positive hotel experiences. For business travelers, hotel WiFi would also mean productivity within the privacy of his or her own hotel room.
Is hotel WiFi safe in general?
Not all hotel WiFis are created equal, so there is no straight forward answer to this. However, not all hotel WiFis are equal. Some hotels may have WiFi network with hidden dangers that you may not know of.
Is hotel WiFi safe? We would say- 'Depends on the hotel that you are staying at". Here are some useful considerations.
1. Free hotel WiFi vs Paid hotel WiFi
A free hotel WiFi would sometimes be of a red flag, especially if it does not require special login or room specific login. If you could connect to the WiFi freely (which is a very common case for backpackers hotel), it means that any one could also do that, and you may not know who is lurking on the same network as you.
A paid hotel WiFi in most cases are more secure as they have certain types of network management systems to isolate connections and WiFi networks across the hotel internet connectivity infrastructure. If you are wondering if hotel is WiFi safe that you might want to look for a proper hotel with a paid and trusted WiFi service.
2. Brand name of hotel
If you are staying a a branded hotel such as Hyatt or Hilton, chances are, you're pretty safe. Is hotel WiFi safe at other similar names like Banyan Tree, Ascott or Four seasons? We think so too. A brand name of a hotel can say a lot in its internet and WiFi security. The next time you are at a small boutique hotel or shady backpackers hostel, you may want to adopt some good practices to protect your privacy.
How to protect my privacy when traveling?
There are ways for travelers to protect their Internet privacy. Here are 3 ways you can protect your privacy in a hotel when traveling.
1. Get a SIM card with data instead of using hotel WiFi
In many countries around the world, buying a SIM card with plenty of data is very affordable, and much more safe and reliable than hotel Wi-Fi.
If you need Internet access on your laptop or tablet, then we recommend creating a mobile Hotspot from your smartphone. What this does is your cell phone will share its mobile data wireless with the other device, allowing it both to access the safer mobile data via SIM card. If you expect to not be able to buy a SIM card with mobile data, you might want to invest in a secure portable Hotspot with flat rate international data charges from your home country before you leave.
2. Use care and prevention- know between unsecured and secured connections
If you are generally tech savvy, you should be familiar with the terms “secured” and “unsecured”, or at least heard of these words before. Wi-Fi networks come in two these different types (“secured” and “unsecured”) of connections.
“Unsecured generally means un-encrypted and does not require a password,” explains Robert Siciliano, a security awareness expert at Safr.Me. On the other hand, a “secure Wi-Fi connection generally requires a password and is encrypted, or is accessed by a virtual private network software.” Therefore, if you do not wish to be accessing private information and transacting over the internet in a unsafe manner, you will need to look for a secured WiFi connection instead.
Unsecurerd hotel WiFi networks will be a big NO. As Siciliano warns, “Unsecured is just that: insecure and vulnerable to criminal hackers sniffing out data as it travels through the air”.
3. Limit your internet activity
If you still want to stay at a hotel with an unsecured WiFi network, you may want to avoid using services where your personal information, bank accounts, and other sensitive data will be displayed or transacted.
You may also want to switch off the hotel WiFi after you are done using it. Once you are going to bed, disconnecting your smartphone and laptop or tablet from the hotel’s WiFi network can minimize your risk of being hacked.
3. Get a VPN
Virtual Private Networks or (VPN) is the most effective way to access hotel WiFi and another other types of networks safely. VPN is like a private network that is exclusive to yourself, and rely on encryption to hide your internet traffic completely. Even if a hacker is able to 'sniff' or 'listen' to your traffic, the information comes up completely jumbled and impossible to understand for the hacker.
What is a good VPN to use with hotel WiFi?
Many travellers use Photon VPN to use with hotel WiFi networks. Is hotel WiFi safe with a Photon VPN? Absolutely. Photon VPN is a VPN that will has features that will work on hotel WiFi network to hide your internet activity and secure your privacy:
- Military grade encryption
- Hide internet activity completely
- Enable transactions involving sensitive information like credits cards and personal details