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Thursday, June 23, 2005

Tips For Mobile Security - Hotels

In a hotel room that offers both a Wi-Fi and an Ethernet connection, which should you choose?

Because Ethernet is a wired connection, it's natively more secure than Wi-Fi. Data goes from your laptop via an Ethernet cable to a hub located in the hotel room and then on to the Internet service provider (ISP) via a cable. A hacker needs to attach directly to the Ethernet system to have any possibility of compromising your data, which means that he or she must have physical access to the facility. A hacker equipped with an Ethernet sniffer could connect to the system from another hotel room and monitor your data traffic, depending on the configuration of the system. (continued...)

With Wi-Fi connections, data typically is sent unencrypted through the air between the mobile device and an access point near your room, making it very easy for hackers to sniff the data passively from as far away as the parking lot. That's not good, unless you implement proper security safeguards (refer to question #2 for more details). If you pay close attention to securing your network connection, then Wi-Fi is very secure.

By the way, you'll almost always find that Ethernet provides faster performance, mainly because most public Wi-Fi networks have lousy signal coverage. Low signal levels cause data rates and corresponding data throughput to be much lower than Ethernet. Wireless, however, allows mobility throughout the hotel room and other parts of the hotel.

For me, it's worth implementing additional security mechanisms in order to make use of Wi-Fi when staying at a hotel. I like the ability to relax from anywhere in the room and still access e-mail and the Web. In addition, Wi-Fi is generally available in other parts of the hotel, such as in the restaurant, bar, lobby, and convention area. You can pay for one day's service (or get it free at some hotels) and continue using Internet-based applications wirelessly after checking out of the room and, for example, attending a meeting in the convention center. Thus, Wi-Fi usually offers more value than Ethernet.

Of course, most hotels offer either Ethernet or Wi-Fi, not both, so you may not have a choice. Still, you could find out what a hotel offers before scheduling your trip and book according to your preferred connection type.

Source: InformationWeek

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