“Smart Hotels” Are Booming—But Is Your Privacy in Danger?
Is staying in a smart hotel all that smart if you want to keep your information private? Know the risks—and how to protect yourself.
Don't forget to check your bill
If your hotel bill appears to be higher than you expected or there are changes you don't remember signing for, it can be an indication that your security has been compromised. While you might be in a rush to check out, it's a good idea to leave even just a few extra minutes to review your bill before leaving. While this may be inconvenient in the short term, it's important to know what's happened as early as possible so you can nip the problem in the bud. Ever wonder which devices are the most vulnerable to security threats? This one is the worst.
Stay smart even after you check out
While it's always wise to keep tabs on your finances and bills, it is especially important if you often stay at smart hotels. Even if your bill is correct, criminals might wait to act until after you check out. How can you tell if your security has been compromised? "If there are charges on your bank account statements that you haven't seen, if you stop receiving bills, if merchants begin to refuse your checks, if you get mysterious debt collector calls, or if you see unfamiliar account names or charges," says Turner. Here are more ways hackers can get you when you travel.
Consider using a VPN
Using public or hotel Wi-Fi can have disastrous consequences. But using a VPN is a great way around this issue. "If you're using the hotel's Wi-Fi, make sure you're using a VPN, which encrypts your traffic in a tunnel," says Turner. Even if you don't have a VPN, here are some things you should never do while using public Wi-Fi.
Or just opt out and unplug
If smart technology is going to make your vacation feel less than relaxing, consider limiting your use. "Check to see if the hotel has a feature where you can opt-out of using devices," suggests Turner. "If that's not possible, I would simply try to avoid using the devices and unplug any smart speaker or display, as they are always listening to their wake words." Instead of using voice commands, he says it's best to turn on electronics the old-fashioned way, as well as choose to deal with humans over robots if that's an option. Periodically unplugging is also something you should consider at home, especially since these 8 things could be spying on you there.