How to Safely Use Free Wireless Internet at Hotels
The free wireless Internet connection at your hotel can be ideal for keeping up with email, checking in for your flight and managing work while away from the office. But a wireless network can also be an access point for hackers and other intruders who may infiltrate your computer or transmit a virus. Take steps to protect yourself and safely use your hotel's wireless network.
Turn on your computer's firewall to block hackers and unwanted traffic while on the wireless hotspot. On a Mac, select "System Preferences" and click "Security" to activate the firewall. On a Windows Vista computer, click the "Start" menu and select "Control Panel." Double-click "Network and Internet," select "Windows Firewall," and click "Turn Windows Firewall On." Consult your user manual for all other operating systems.
Disable file sharing on your computer while it's on the hotel's wireless network, to avoid unwittingly transmitting private files and folders to the entire guest list at the hotel. On a Mac, open "System Preferences" in the "Apple" menu and click "Sharing." In Windows Vista, open your "Control Panel" and click "Network and Internet." Open "Network and Sharing Center" and select "Turn off file sharing." Consult your computer's user manual if you're using a different operating system.
Connect to the hotel's wireless network. The network title probably will include the hotel's name. If several networks are accessible from within the hotel, consult the front desk to determine the official wireless access point. The other network connections may be unsecured or malicious and may open up your computer to viruses or hacker attacks.
Check for a secure login page before you sign in. Most hotel wireless access points require you to submit your name, room number or other personal information. Look for an address starting with "https://" to ensure the login page is encrypted to protect your personal information.
Your operating system's manufacturer constantly releases updated and patches to resolve security holes and problems with the software. Keep your computer updated at all times to avoid being exploited by a hacker or virus.