The secret danger behind free hotel WiFi

Sarah Carty

Holidays are all about relaxing with a cocktail in one hand and if you’re like us, your iPad in the other as you watch Netflix by the pool.

And while it may be tempting to login to your hotel’s free WiFi as soon as you’ve checked in at the reception desk, you might want to take a harder look at which network you’re logging on to.

According to a report by the Today show in the US, it’s becoming more and more frequent for hackers to create fake free hotel WiFi accounts, which they then use to steal all of your personal information.

A Today show investigation has revealed why you might want to think twice before logging into hotel WiFi. Photo: Getty Images
Cyber Security Expert Jim Stickley carried out an experiment at the Grand Fiesta Americana hotel in Cancun, Mexico. Photo: Today Show/NBC

It works by the hackers conjuring up a fake WiFi name very similar to the one the hotel uses.

Cyber Security Expert Jim Stickley carried out an experiment at the Grand Fiesta Americana hotel in Cancun, Mexico.

Jim sat at the pool of the hotel, where the WiFi was called FiestaRewards.

However, he created a fake WiFi account, called FiestaRewards Pool, to show just how easy it is to con people into believing it’s the real deal.

Within minutes his device recognised two people at the pool who had logged into the fake account, thinking it was the hotel’s faster pool WiFi.

Jim watched as the holidaymakers browsed their social media pages and looked up shopping sites, logged into their banks and email accounts.

Jim was able to look at everything the hotel guests were doing on their phones. Photo: Today Show/NBC

Then reporter, Jeff Rossum, goes off to find the people and warn them that they’re being hacked.

“That frightens me,” one woman said when Jeff tells her the security expert is able to see exactly what she’s doing on her phone.

In terms of how you can keep your information private online, the reporter recommends switching over to your network when you need to enter details from your bank or your email.

They also recommend unclicking the ‘autojoin’ button and ‘forgetting the network’ every few hours.

Got a story tip? Send it to tips@yahoo7.com.au

Want more celebrity, entertainment and lifestyle news? Follow Be on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram