Hotel operators were warned in a non-public advisory from the US Secret Service to be alert to the possibility of maliciously planted malware in their business centres' PCs.
Brian Krebs of KrebsOnSecurity reported on Monday that an advisory had mentioned the arrest of several suspects accused of infecting several major hotel computers in the Dallas area. In the above-mentioned case the criminals used stolen credit cards to register at the hotels, whereupon they made use of the business centres and downloaded key logger software which captured log-in information for services used by other guests - including online banking data.
These days, most computer users are well aware that their personal information is only as safe as their best practises. The advisory is meant to remind users to maintain that vigilance even on holiday or in respectable surroundings, such as good quality hotels. It is best to use public computers for basic web browsing or internet surfing and leave more confidential searches or transactions until you are back on a secure connection.
As Krebs put it, "If a bad guy has unrestricted physical access to your computer, it is not your computer anymore. " He added that most public computers cannot be considered safe, even if they are physically secure at all times. Hackers can access computer systems remotely and wreak just as much havoc as if they were sitting in front of the monitor.
Krebs advises people to create a "throwaway" email address to use if you need to print something from your emails while using a public computer. Forward the information to be printed to that new email address to use on a public computer. In this way, your own information will remain safe from prying eyes.