Marriott and SPG hotels are known for being one of the most reliably clean and enjoyable hotel chains to stay at, no matter where you are in the world. Travelers of all kind have continued to check-in to Marriotts around the globe because for years the brand has stood the test of time as one of the best in the business, offering numerous free amenities to all guests who walk through their doors.
But hotel WiFi networks aren’t adequately prepared for the onslaught of hackers that target them every day. In the past few years hotels have become an increasingly popular target for blackhat actors who see them as a treasure trove of bank accounts and personal information that are just ripe for the taking.
So what can you do to ensure that you keep your data protected then next time you’re staying in a hotel? Read on in our guide to choosing the right VPN for Marriott and SPG hotels to find out!
What’s Wrong With Hotel WiFi?
In principle it makes sense that a hotel offers its guests WiFi that anyone staying at their location can access 24/7. Whether you’re a family on vacation or a businessperson in town for a conference, being able to use fast, reliable WiFi when you’re in your room is an essential part of the overall experience.
A good WiFi network can make the difference between being able to quickly and efficiently submit a report before you head back to the conference floor, or just upload a video of the grandkids at Disneyland back to grandma and grandpa back home.
No matter what you intend to use it for, Marriott makes sure that you have the connection speeds and bandwidth you need to make it happen. The company offers WiFi in all its rooms at all locations in North and Central America, as well as hardwired connections down in the business center (if your preferred hotel supports it).
But with all that convenience comes a darker side to hotel WiFi, and it’s one you may not have even seen coming until now.
The Better the Hotel, the Higher the Risk
Although it may seem counter-intuitive, many hotel guests don’t think about the fact that even if their preferred hotel chain (in this case, Marriott) has enough money to appropriately secure their own network - that doesn’t stop a determined hacker.
Marriott locations are known for being a premium chain, and their rooms come with an equally premium price. This means that a potential attacker already knows either you (or at least the company you work for) has enough to afford a stay at the Marriott, which makes you a bigger target than someone else who might be roughing it out down at the Budget Inn.
All a hacker might need to do is set up a dummy WiFi network with a name that’s similar to the Marriot’s hotspot (“Marriott-Free-WiFi”, for example), to launch a man-in-the-middle attack that can vacuum up data by the gigabyte. Once a user is logged into the fake WiFi spot, any data sent or received over that connection can be tracked and logged by the hacker for them to use however they see fit. Whether this means stealing your identity or draining your bank account, at that point it’s all up to them.
Lastly, there’s the issue of personal information stored by the hotel itself. Whether you pay to use the hotel WiFi or it’s free (Marriott and SPG locations are sure to offer all their guests 100% free access to their networks), you still have to sign a privacy agreement before you log onto any public network.
That information is stored in Marriott’s central database, and according to the annual Norton Threat Report, more than 14 major breaches were reported on hotel chain databases in 2015 alone. Not only that, but as a 2014 article from Wired showed, a new breed of hacking network dubbed “DarkHotel” by the Kaspersky Research Lab seems to be using hotels as a testing ground for some of the most advanced malware campaigns being distributed on the internet today.
How Can VPN.com Help?
Hackers know that when you’re in your hotel room, you’re going to find any way you can to get on the internet. This need to be connected is how they get the most bang for their buck, and anyone staying at a Marriott or SPG hotel should know that they’re at risk for an attack.
But all hope is not lost. By using a VPN recommended by VPN.com, you can 100% guarantee that all information transmitted over the Marriott’s WiFi network will be protected from any prying eyes who might be trying to steal your data or somehow use it against you.
With the help of a 256-bit AES military-grade encryption standard, a VPN creates a secure tunnel between your devices and the rest of the internet. This makes it so even if a hacker is listening in on an infected Marriott WiFi hotspot, any data that you transmit will be uncrackable, thwarting their attempts to steal your data in transit.
So before you book your next stay at a Marriott or SPG hotel, be sure to sign up for a subscription to the VPN of your choosing recommended by VPN.com!