Travelers warned about public Wi-Fi malware

FBI warning travelers to be careful using remote Internet conn­ections

SAN ANTONIO - As summer travel season kicks into high gear, the FBI is warning travelers about reports of laptops being infected with malicious software while using hotel Internet connections.

When Kurt Pavia travels, he takes his laptop. He also takes precautions.

"I just don't use anything that would require credit card transactions or anything with Social Security numbers, any personal information," he said while waiting for his flight.

Now he has cause to be cautious using the Wi-Fi convenience hotels offer.

The government has received reports of travelers attempting to hook up to the hotel Internet connection, but unbeknownst to them or the hotels, malicious software is piggybacking on the connection. 

The traveler then sees a popup offering an update to a legitimate software product. But, when the travels clicks to accept the update, the malware infects the computer.

Those traveling abroad appear to be targets, according to the FBI.

However, the vulnerability is anywhere people use public Wi-Fi, according to Glenn Artimov, cyber security consultant with Delta Risk.

"It's important to know exactly where you are downloading content from," Artimov said.

Once the malware in installed, the bad guys can then monitor the computer user's activity.

"So, if I log into my bank account, my social media page, or if I log onto my email, all that information being transmitted can be recorded," Artimov said.

To protect yourself, the FBI advised updating software before you travel. If you must update software on the road, go directly to the vendor's website and avoid using the pop-up.

Various virus and malware protections, like Hotspot Shield are available for free downloads. Artimov said they do help, but they must be updated to be effective.


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