Hotel Internet Has Security Issues. There’s a Very Easy Way to Avoid Them.

The most important piece of travel gear you can own in 2021 is a piece of smartphone software

Hotel Internet Has Security Issues. There’s a Very Easy Way to Avoid Them.
Austin Distel

Internet connectivity at hotels can be a tenuous thing, and not just in the sense of its efficacy.

Using public wifi — whether it be at Starbucks, the mall or even a public library — always presents a certain set of risks where privacy and security is involved, which is hardly news to anyone. An insecure connection leaves users vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks from hackers and other nefarious parties that may be trying to collect your information.

What does constitute news, however, according to a new Lifehacker report by Brendan Hesse, is that hotels, predominantly because of the potential for so many “targets in close proximity,” have become nothing short of hacker goldmines. The complimentary wifi that we’re all so keen to connect to immediately upon arrival is probably the greatest threat of all, but guests should be wary of other public networks during their stay, as well.

“Other visitors may have set up a router or personal hotspot in their room that shows up in your device’s available networks list, but most aren’t doing so out of kindness,” Hesse wrote. “Chances are they simply don’t know how to configure the security settings on their device, but it’s also possible they want to dupe others into connecting to their network so they can spy on you.”

It’s why he urges everyone to use a VPN while staying at a hotel.

For the technologically uninclined, a VPN is a virtual private connection. It is, in effect, like surfing the internet with a shield, although protection isn’t the only perk to using a VPN where travel is involved. Because you can create a VPN connection to anywhere in the world, you can also (legally) spoof your location. This gives you access to things like foreign content not always available in your location (e.g., catalogs that streaming services have in other countries) and — in conjunction with clearing your browser cache — also visibility to prices (on flights, rental cars, hotels, etc.) from other countries, potentially presenting you with a better deal.

Moral of the story? We should all be using a VPN, which is fortunately neither a hard nor expensive feat. In fact, it’s likely to save you money and also the headache associated with getting your private information stolen off your laptop while connected to a sketchy hotel network. That’s a win all around.


Join America's Fastest Growing Spirits Newsletter THE SPILL. Unlock all the reviews, recipes and revelry — and get 15% off award-winning La Tierra de Acre Mezcal.