questionshow secure is the internet at hotel business…

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You're kidding, right? There is NO security on a public computer. Ever. You are concerned and you should be. Don't do it. Go to the friend's home or use the telephone.

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@bigelowb: Thanks. I was worried that was the case, I was just hoping they'd have some security for the businesses that use it. I will take that advice.

(No, not kidding. Really not very knowledgeable in this stuff. Only learned last year about https, while on vacation with a net-savvy friend. Ask me about evaluating the quality of dog food, using a myriad of art supplies and tools, grant writing, or compliance with Federal regulations and I am golden. But computer stuff in general and internet stuff in particular are still pretty unknown realms for me. It's like when I travel-- I love to spend time in these foreign countries but I have only a general knowledge of geography and customs.)

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How secure it is depends on how locked down they have their computers. It varies widely from a free-for-all, i.e. people can download and install anything they want, to draconian.

If you have to, clear history, clear cache, form filling, ID, password, etc and close browser afterward. And make sure it's SSL - "https://." It sounds like a lot but really a bunch of clicks though you do have to know where to find it (Options, Settings, or something like that).

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@first2summit: I still wouldn't do it. For all you know someone installed a keystroke recorder on the thing last night.

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Ya, can't be too careful with a public machine. That said, if you have a laptop, that should be reasonable since your connection to the site should be secured (via https) and you obviously don't keep malicious software on your own machine..

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@moondrake: Pay attention to what @bigelowb said. Go to your friend's house, and use their computer. This is the safest for you.

Here's what I do when I travel (and I am not suggesting you do this):

I take my Macbook with me. That computer is permitted to access my financial data (my bank has a system where each computer needs to be authorized). When checking into a hotel, or using a business center's network, I first use the Macbook to log back into my network at home, which gives me information about the network that I'm currently using. There's a bunch of magic hand waving that goes in here (which I'm not going to bore anyone with).

If all is well, then I use the Macbook to do whatever it is that I needed to do. Otherwise, I leave, and find another place. Worst case, I set up a VPN (using the Macbook) back to my network at home) and work it out that way.

Hotel networks are eee-vulll.

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Going to a banking site (or anything else that uses HTTPS) may be OK because the data channel between you and the bank is encrypted and supposed to be impossible to get a MITM (man in the middle) attack.

However, the hotel networks are basically a sewer. You are on an open network with everybody else in the hotel, and they are able to see what you are doing, and (if the network isn't properly configured) even see what is on their computers. Has anybody else had the experience of opening iTunes on a hotel network and seeing the iTunes library of other hotel guests? Very enlightening.

As to the business center computer: are you out of your mind? That computer is on the aforementioned network. And, in addition, who knows what password stealing trojans and/or key loggers are on them. Stay far away.

If you must use hotel networks for sensitive work, use a VPN solution.

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If it were me, I'd use my OWN computer. As others have said, they could be logging keystrokes, recording the screen from a security camera, etc. But you're perfectly safe using their connection, since it's all SSL encrypted between you and the bank. If you get any security warnings when visiting a secure site while on their connection, stop immediately. That means they're trying to intercept your communications.

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@wilfbrim: That's not the best practice for hotel wifi. The proper configuration would have all IP's on the wifi connection to be isolated from each other and able to access ONLY the outside Internet.

That's not what you'll see everywhere, of course. It's a good way to judge how inept their IT team is.

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the business hotels I go to are secure, not the wireless, but the business center, it is hard wired, the machines are locked down, you can't save anything to the machine, can't download and install anything, and when you log off, your whole session is cleared, cache, history, etc. if you log right back on, there is no history, or any trace you were there.

and besides your accessing a site via HTTPS, you have no worries, other than making sure someone isn't standing over your shoulder with a not pad writing down your information.