November 2014: Malware when Traveling

The security research firm Kaspersky Lab issued a warning to travelers to be aware of an increase in malicious attacks when connecting to hotel Internet services, especially in Asian countries. The issue was not seen to be localized to any particular hotel chain.

This attack, now named "Darkhotel", begins by presenting the user with a pop-up offering to update software just after connecting to the hotel's Internet connection. The fake update is disguised to resemble a legitimate update that the user is familiar with such as Flash or Java. Software update requests were varied among software vendors making the attack difficult to spot. At this point the hackers have access to the infected machine to monitor keystrokes, steal password information, or install any other potentially costly virus.

Once the attack is over, the hackers remove all traces of infection, and the victim never realizes that there was a problem. It is recommended that users update their laptop's software just before traveling. As a best practice, you should ignore software update requests while on a hotel Internet connection. If you must install an update while traveling, go to the official website to download updates directly.

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