by Shaun Murphy, PrivateGiant CEO
When guests check into a hotel, the first thing the front desk requests is a credit card for the room for any incidentals. Guests hand over their precious plastic without thinking twice. After all, they need to check in and a card is required to do so. But before just grabbing any card out of their wallets, hotel guests might want to think twice. Hotel chains like Trump, Mandarin Oriental and White Lodging have all recently been hacked and lost massive amounts of financial and personal data on guests. Credit card numbers are not the only valuable data that was stolen.
Before paying for another hotel reservation, PrivateGiant recommends considering the following safeguards to keep financial and personal information safe.
- Get a credit card that is only used to pay for travel including airfare and hotel reservations.
- Skip out on some of the conveniences offered by hotels including room service, free Internet access, long-distance calls and other fee-based services that are tied to the card used to pay for the room.
- If booking a hotel stay online, do not use a regular credit card. Go to a local supermarket and purchase a reloadable card instead. Use the throwaway card to pay for the booking.
- Make sure you are using a secured connection to websites when available. A simple “s” (https:// instead of http:// in your web browser's URL bar) will protect you from most threats local and remote. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has created a utility that will automatically use a secure connection for you. Learn more about it at https://www.eff.org/Https-everywhere.
- Create temporary passwords for sites you plan on accessing while travelling. It is estimated that 60% of people use the same password, or a variation of one, for every account. If you get hacked while traveling, having a temporary “throwaway” password for email or social media will prevent a headache of worry over if your home accounts were compromised.
- Bring your own computer. Do not use the shared terminal in a hotel business center. You never know what the person who used the computer five minutes before you might have loaded onto it and it could be running programs watching your every move.
- Don't lose that room card. Sometimes your credit card information is stored on the magnetic strip and is easily decoded if the room card is lost. Ask at the front desk if you can get a child-safe keycard without any purchasing power and carry that around instead.
Shaun Murphy is one of the nation’s leading experts in communication security with over 20 years experience in the industry. Shaun worked as a subject matter expert on high-level government communications software and hardware systems for numerous agencies. Now, Shaun has dedicated his life to developing technology solutions for the average consumer.