Three Wi-Fi Cybersecurity Warnings While Traveling

Gearing up for the fall conference season, health IT leaders have some travel ahead for upcoming events like Epic UGM and CHIME Fall Forum. But with work travel, comes some serious cybersecurity concerns accessing Wi-Fi. Whether logging in within a hotel lobby, coffeeshop or airport, know your risks.

  1. Wi-Fi pineapples – These small devices can de-authenticate and spoof a legitimate wireless internet network, forcing unsuspecting users to connect to an "Evil Twin" fake rogue wireless network. Once connected, attackers can exploit private data, like passwords and credit card numbers, keyed in by users as they browse online.

  2. Automatic connections – Perhaps you visit a specific hotel for work travel and have used Wi-Fi in that location several times. Conveniently, the network is now automatically recognized by your cell phone or laptop. However, Wi-Fi pineapples can scan for all service set identifiers (SSIDs) in their vicinity. The hacking device can then rebroadcasts SSIDs to trick laptops, tablets and phones into thinking it is a connected access point (your same trusted wireless network) from the past.

  3. Contact lists – Your passwords and financials aren't the only target. Attackers using these schemes typically target your device's contact lists as well, so they can later pose as you for email phishing scams against your colleagues and contacts.

What can you do?
The Wi-Fi Alliance suggests using a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which uses an encrypted tunnel to secure all traffic. For further safety, even when in a rush, avoid using public hotspots altogether, and when browsing online, only use secure HTTPS sites. HTTPS stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure, which applies Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol. If you do use a public network, manually configure your laptop or phone to "forget" that network. At home, make sure all Wi-Fi routers, access points and devices are patched and updated.

So whether it's a quick email send or online shopping as you fill travel wait times, be cognizant of your every move. Apply these cybersecurity tips as a safe traveler, and stay tuned for additional HIT and security insight from Stoltenberg.