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Hotel Network Security: A Study of Computer Networks in U.S. Hotels

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Abstract

A study of 147 U.S. hotels finds a mixed picture with regard to the security of guests’ connections to the hotels’ network, whether by cable or Wi-Fi. Since many business travelers connect remotely to continue working while on the road, the potential for theft of corporate information exists. Some hotels still rely on relatively rudimentary hub technology for their networks, and these are particularly subject to hacking. Others have upgraded to more secure switches or routers. Even better is encryption for Wi-Fi connections, but that still does not prevent malicious users from intercepting guests’ transmissions. An example of a best practice is presented in the case of the W Dallas Hotel—Victory, which has set up virtual local area networks (VLANs) for all of its users. The VLAN inhibits attackers from using their computer to imitate the hotel’s main server, which is the mechanism most would use to intercept other people’s data. Given that the technology exists to increase a hotel network’s security, a hotel could potentially be considered at fault for not taking the necessary precautions to protect their guests from hackers.

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2008-09-01

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hotels; computer networks; Wi-Fi; network security

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Government Document

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Required Publisher Statement: © Cornell University. This report may not be reproduced or distributed without the express permission of the publisher

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