Following the news that 1,200 IHG hotels suffered a malware attack on their cash registers between September and December 2016, with the likely loss of an undisclosed number of guests’ personal and financial details, Pete Turner, Consumer Security Expert at Avast commented below.
Pete Turner, Consumer Security Expert at Avast:
“Customers of IHG’s hotels which were affected by the 2016 malware attack which gathered the financial details of hotel guests from the hotel cash registers over a period of four months should be vigilant in checking their bank accounts for any suspicious transactions if they stayed in one of the affected properties during that time. If the hackers behind the attack did not directly make use of the financial data themselves, it is most likely they sold it on the darknet to make a profit which would then expose guests to further risk of financial fraud and identity theft.
IHG is showing great customer service by providing a tool for people to use if they stayed in an infected hotel between September and December 2016. Customers who find they have been potentially affected by last year’s breach should check their bank and credit card statements for strange transactions and report any suspicious activity to their bank.
Although consumers don’t always have full control over their data, as in cases like this, there are some general best practice security steps people can take to minimize the impact of hacks and breaches.
- Use strong and unique passwords across all online accounts and change them on a regular basis. Password manager tools, like Avast Passwords, use secure encryption to store your passwords so you don’t have to remember them all, and generates very secure passwords for your accounts allowing you to change them on a regular basis. Avast Passwords has a feature which alerts the user if their email address may have been compromised by a data breach.
- Use a VPN for online activity where you want to keep your data private from prying eyes. A VPN like HideMyAss! is especially useful when a user connects to public Wi-Fi networks which are often unsecure. Research conducted by Avast found three quarters of Brits use free public Wi-Fi and 16% of those admitted that they will use it for financial activities and online transactions, potentially putting their financial data at risk.
- Install a good antivirus to catch the threats you cannot stop yourself. There are some very good free antivirus packages on the market such as AVG AntiVirus Free and Avast Free Antivirus, or for a small annual subscription, you can also get a great security product that has more features and protection to offer, depending on your needs. An antivirus will protect your personal information on your PC or mobile phone, keep you safe when you are online and prevent viruses and malware from getting on your devices.”