FBI Issues Warning to Travelers

Fraudsters Exploit Hotel Internet Connections to Spread Malware
FBI Issues Warning to Travelers

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation warns of fraudsters who are targeting travelers through hotel Internet connections. The scheme involves pop-up windows through which fraudsters trick travelers into installing bogus software updates on their computer. The "updates" are really malware installations.

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In a May 21 memo, the FBI describes recent incidents of travelers' laptops being infected with malicious software while using hotel Internet connections.

"In these instances, the traveler was attempting to set up the hotel room Internet connection and was presented with a pop-up window notifying the user to update a widely used software product," the FBI memo says. "If the user clicked to accept and install the update, malicious software was installed on the laptop. The pop-up window appeared to be offering a routine update to a legitimate software product for which updates are frequently available."

Once installed, the malware can be used by the fraudsters to steal personal data, including identity credentials, financial account log-ins and passwords - all elements of identity theft.

The FBI recommends that those who travel, especially government, private industry and academic personnel, should:

  • Take extra caution before updating software products through a hotel Internet connection;
  • Check the author or digital certificate of any prompted update to see if it corresponds to the software vendor;
  • Perform any software updates immediately before traveling;
  • Download software updates directly from the vendor's website if updates are necessary while traveling.

Anyone victimized by fraudsters as described above should contact a local FBI office immediately and report the incident to the Internet Crime Complaint Center's website.

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Information Security Media Group

Information Security Media Group (ISMG) is the world's largest media company devoted to information security and risk management. Each of its 28 media sites provides relevant education, research and news that is specifically tailored to key vertical sectors including banking, healthcare and the public sector; geographies from North America to Southeast Asia; and topics such as data breach prevention, cyber risk assessment and fraud. Its yearly global summit series connects senior security professionals with industry thought leaders to find actionable solutions for pressing cybersecurity challenges.

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