Can you trust hotels with your personal information?

hotel safety

It has become clear that hotels are simply not securing their guest’s privacy. While you’re chilling on the bed or playing with your phone accessories, the hotel might be spying on your internet activity. Some people even put up phone holders to film any unusual activity in their room, while they are out. Over the last couple of years, we have seen a high volume of data breaches from Major hotel brands like the Hilton, Westin, Starwood, Omni hotels, Sheraton, Marriott etc. Last month there was a report from the cybersecurity software company that states Symantex has revealed a lot of the hotels were found to be leaking their guest’s personal information to third parties when they are sending out their confirmation emails. A study conducted looked at 1,500 hotel websites in 54 different countries – from the small, independent hotels to the major 5 stars –  found that out of every 3 hotels, 2 were sending messages that can make it extremely easy for such third parties to view their guests full names, address, passport numbers, email and credit card information.

If there is a silver lining here, it is certainly that the dangers that are outlined in the Symantec report are in the category of “attacks”. They are scary but are quite rare. Targeted attacks don’t seem to scale well, and the attackers are wanting to get as much info that they possibly can – as fast as they can.

Hotels have not done much to earn the trust of their guests which is why it is up to us as individuals to protect our information. Here is how you can do it:

Mask you credit card details

When booking online it does require the traveller to offer up a lot of personal data. Your information can be obscured by using a software like Abine Blur which will generate a one-time use credit card number and email address. This is a great solution for protecting your online privacy and personal data. For a small annual fee of $39, you can shop online and book hotels all without revealing the true email, credit card number and phone number.

Install an extension to prevent FormJacking.

Symantec put FormJacking, in the internet security threat report, as being one of the most serious types of cybercrime. FormJacking works just like an ATM skimmer, but on a website where it requires you to fill out a form. Criminals end up placing a small code on an e-commerce site and then they wait. When someone enters a credit card number or their personal info then the code transfers that info back to the criminal. It is impossible for victims to notice, which is what makes it so dangerous. To make your info less vulnerable you can download a browser-based script like a JSB blocker for safari or ScriptSafe for Chrome. These are tools that are designed to stop ‘FormJackers’ from stealing data that you are entering by simply blocking the Javascript coding that sends the data to secondary parties.

Never use Wi-Fi without a VPN

It is important to get into the habit of using a VPN virtual private network when you are using Wi-Fi in places like hotels, airports and coffee shops. Wi-Fi networks are great, but they are very risky. A VPN boosts your security by creating what is called an encrypted tunnel between your device and the server. It is a good idea to use one whenever you can as it prevents the network traffic from being observed quite easy.

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