Jackie here, with AllClear ID. As you head out and see the world this summer, be careful not to bring home any unwanted travel guests. I’m not talking about bed bugs (although hopefully you don’t find any of those either), this unwanted travel guest is malware and traps might be lurking on your hotel’s internet connection.

Malware (or malicious software) is software that hackers and id thieves use gather personal information or access your computer without your permission. Computer viruses are a type of malware. Malware can disrupt your computer system, take your personal information and make you a victim of identity theft.

This press release on the IC3 website warns travelers about potential malware traps when using hotel internet connections. Here’s how this happens: when travelers connect with the hotel internet connection, a pop-up window would come up asking the user to update their software. If the traveler accepted and allowed the installation, malware was then installed on their computer.

Here are some tips for you before you hop on the plane. To keep your computer and your identity safe when using hotel internet connections both in the U.S. and abroad:

  • Update before you leave- Update all of your software programs before you leave. If it’s a short hotel stay, you probably won’t need to update again until you get back. Also make sure that your anti-virus protection is up to date.
  • Check the digital certificate of prompted updates- Before allowing a prompted update, check the author or digital certificate. If the certificate doesn’t match the vendor, it might be a malware scam.
  • Install updates directly from vendor websites- Getting your updates directly from the vendor sites is a good idea when traveling. Refuse the pop-up asking for the update and then head to the vendor’s site and install the update yourself.

If you do encounter this type of attack, contact your local FBI office or report it using the IC3 website to help law enforcement in their fight against id theft.