Experts Warn Inflight WiFi Can Lead To Data Leaks
CHARLOTTE, NC. — Keeping yourself entertained on a long flight, you’ll watch movies and listen to music or maybe just work and check emails. Regardless you’ll most likely connect to WiFi. In fact, 81% of passengers would use inflight WiFi if available on their next flight, according to Inmarsat. Inflight WiFi networks are the prime targets for hackers because many of them fall short even with the most basic security measures cybersecurity experts say.
“We’re seeing criminals and bad actors target more networks that are frequented by travelers and tourists,” Chris Furtick with Fortalice Solutions says.
Furtick says he doesn’t advise people to connect to WiFi outside of their homes or office. But if they do, make sure their device is completely up-to-date and has the latest software patches applied to it and don’t access or send sensitive information across in-flight free WiFi.
“I relate connecting to public WiFi like walking around Times Square barefoot. You have a significant chance of picking up something that someone left behind.”
In 2016, a USA Today journalist was hacked while onboard an American Airlines flight from Texas to North Carolina, says Tyler Miller with NordVPN.
“This unsuspected hacker was essentially trying to spread awareness of the importance of data security; what are you think help with WiFi, especially that of in-flight WiFi,” says Miller.
He says it’s crucial to take certain steps to ensure your security while using these types of networks.
-Disable automatic connections on devices.
-Do not log in to any sensitive accounts if you need to use public WiFi.
-Connecting to official airlines or provider network.
-Use a VPN, which sends traffic through an encrypted “tunnel,” making it extremely difficult to decipher or intercept.
Furtick says transparency from airlines is key to keeping your data safe.
“Some of the purveyors tell people to connect securely make sure you’re using tools and things like that. But I think we owe it to ourselves to make sure that we’re protecting ourselves. We can’t rely on them,” Furtick says.