After an Internet hacker threatened to release a series of embarrassing emails from guests and staff from US hotel chain Thompson at the weekend, British hotels offering Wi-Fi to their guests are now being warned to step up security.
The hacker accessed personal emails through the hotel’s Wi-Fi system, which was left running on an open network, leaving several hotels in the Thompson chain facing possible lawsuits. Now IT security consultancy Global Secure Systems (GSS) are warning the same thing could happen in the UK if hotels don’t start using passwords to protect their network.
David Hobson, GSS Managing Director, said: "The same thing could happen in the UK, as many hotels leave their Wi-Fi networks open for guests to use in their rooms. This potentially leaves the systems open to hacker incursions, and could end up with guests` emails being plastered all over the Internet."
Hobson suggests that reception staff give out passwords to guests as they check-in, but that these should also be changed on a regular basis to ensure email interchanges remain private.
"Many hotel guests use Webmail, rather than email client software, on their laptops for convenience`s sakes. If a hacker gains access to an open Wi-Fi network in the hotel, they can easily eavesdrop on the Webmail sessions, with potential embarrassing consequences for the guests and the hotel(s) concerned."
Hotels in the UK should look to implement passwords for their Wi-Fi services as soon as possible if they don’t already have them in place, in order to prevent a copycat hacker mimicking the attacks on the Thompson group.