Security News

Is It Safe to Update Software When You’re in a Hotel? The FBI Says No

Posted on May 9th, 2012 by

You know, we at Intego think about a lot of security risks, but this one caught our attention. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center has published a document warning users not to update software when in hotels. You may wonder, what could be different about being in a hotel? Well, as the document says:

Recent analysis from the FBI and other government agencies demonstrates that malicious actors are targeting travelers abroad through pop-up windows while establishing an Internet connection in their hotel rooms.

When you’re in a hotel, and use the hotel’s Wi-Fi, you are generally presented a web page or dialog to log into the service. Apparently, some smart cyber-criminals have found ways to hack these web pages.

Recently, there have been instances of travelers’ laptops being infected with malicious software while using hotel Internet connections. In these instances, the traveler was attempting to setup the hotel room Internet connection and was presented with a pop-up window notifying the user to update a widely-used software product. If the user clicked to accept and install the update, malicious software was installed on the laptop.

Given the level of Mac malware at the moment, it’s a good idea to follow the FBI’s recommendations: don’t update software when you’re on a Wi-Fi network in a hotel (and this should probably be extended to include any public Wi-Fi network), and download software updates directly from vendors’ web sites.

While you’re at it, you might want to try out Intego’s Mac antivirus, VirusBarrier X6, to protect your Mac from malware, but also from network attacks. When you’re on a public Wi-Fi network, anything can happen, and it’s better to be safe.