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December 13, 2013

Wi-Fi Security Flaws at Irish Hotels

by Esther Hertzfeld

Irish hotels are being warned of security flaws in their guest Wi-Fi services that could put the personal and financial information of users at risk. The warning follows the discovery of cyber security flaws at 10 hotels in Ireland by Cork-based IT security company Smarttech. Smarttech carried out tests on 10 randomly selected three-, four- and five-star hotels.

The tests found that even a novice Internet hacker would be able to collect everything from email logins, credit card details, Facebook passwords, PayPal account details, of people using the public Wi-Fi provided by the venues – within 20 minutes, reports Business and Leadership.

“Consumers need to be aware that if you are accessing public wifi there are serious security challenges,” Smarttech chief executive Ronan Murphy told the Irish Times.

He said the flaws were “exceptionally worrying” as customers are almost completely unaware of how dangerous using unencrypted logins and passwords across a public network can be.

The Irish Hotels Federation said individual hotels should inform their guests of the type of Internet access being provided and the nature of security that is in place.

“End users of Wi-Fi services should, for their part, ensure they have appropriate Internet security installed on their devices particularly if carrying out commercial transactions online or entering personal data onto web pages,” a spokeswoman told the Irish Times.

Smarttech said the hack test is known as “network sniffer” on the public Wi-Fi network and within seconds it shows up a list of devices and grants access. It said that most public Wi-Fi networks share a single internet provider, or IP, subnet and this gives potential hackers the ability to pretend that their laptop or mobile device is the gateway on that subnet. It is known as a Man in the Middle Attack, reports the Irish Mirror.

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