DENVER - Staying in a hotel while on business has a lot of perks. In-room services allow you to focus on work and the business center lets you print documents before a big meeting. However, these conveniences are being exploited by scammers and cyber thugs.
The U.S. Secret Service is warning travelers about spyware hiding in business-center computers. Known as key loggers, these covert programs gather a user's keystrokes. Hackers then have access to any data typed into the computer like PIN numbers, passwords, and usernames. In a statement issued to businesses in the hospitality industry, the Secret Service detailed the arrests of suspects accused of using key logging to breach the computers of several major hotels in the Dallas/ Fort Worth area.
The concern doesn't end with common-space computers. The Federal Trade Commission tracks scams popular with criminals and published a list of hotel hazards.
1. Fake restaurant fliers
You check into a hotel and find a flier slipped beneath the door. It's from a local restaurant offering specials to hotel guests. You call in an order and pay with a credit card, only to find that the flier and restaurant are both fake.
2. Illicit Wi-Fi connections
An open Wi-Fi hotspot appears to belong to your hotel or is given a generic name like "linksys". However, once connected, you are vulnerable to a "man in the middle" attack where any data exchanged online is collected. Also, your computer could become infested with spyware and open to hackers every time it's turned on.
3. Phony front-desk call
You get a late-night call from the front desk of your hotel claiming there is a billing problem. The fake clerk asks for your credit card information. Scammers are hoping that you're groggy and not thinking clearly.