FBI warns of malware targeting travelers
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- A warning to everyone traveling with a laptop computer. Your next download could install much more than an update. The FBI is weighing in, saying malware that targets travelers is on the rise.
Just as million of people hit the road this summer, the FBI is saying those travelers with laptop computers should use extreme caution when logging in to remote Internet connections.
Nathan Dawson says traveling is already a hassle.
"It is just getting tougher and tougher to fly. I understand the security measures in place, but now you have to look left and look right it seems like," Dawson said.
Now add computer malware to the list. The FBI is warning laptop users about malware that appears to be targeting people on the go.
Here's how it works. The FBI says when laptops log onto a hotel's wireless Internet connection, malware can piggyback on the connection. The malware then brings up a pop-up window saying the computer needs an update. Clicking on the pop-up brings nothing but trouble and most travelers don't even know it is happening.
"Never would have thought of it, I mean that has always been a convenience to access the Wi-Fi," said Dawson.
The FBI says travelers should not update their laptop software while on the road, something local computer experts say is good advice.
"You can always install it later if it is something you need and unfortunately because malware is stealthy you can have it on the computer and not know it is there," said Jay Lee, host of local radio program, 'Technology Bytes.'
Lee says the malware being downloaded on to laptops is up to no good.
"When it is installed on your PC, it can capture usernames and passwords, it can redirect all your Internet traffic to certain websites, most common to adult websites," Lee said.
Lee adds once downloaded, the virus can render a laptop unusable.
"It does not necessarily damage your data, but it can make it where the computer will not go online and when you click on things they do not work so when you get infected with spyware it can be very difficult to remove," said Lee.
The FBI says hotels do not know the malware is piggybacking a ride on Wi-Fi connections.
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