When getting on a flight that’s three to five hours (or more), many business professionals wrestle in their heads whether to spend the $12.95 on airplane WiFi, take a nap or watch the movie—or, if their company is paying for it, they might do all three. But here’s the thing: If you are connecting to WiFi on a plane and have all these company secrets on your device and all this client data, do you really think it’s a good idea to connect?
What savvy business travelers aren’t savvy about is security—or, specifically, the lack thereof in airplane WiFi. When logging onto an airplane WiFi, there isn’t any encryption preventing other users from seeing yourdata. The majority of the security in airplane WiFi is built into the payment system to protect your credit card. Beyond that, you’re pretty much left to the dogs.
Another issue flyers face when booting up is that their WiFi card generally defaults to seeking out a known WiFi connection and then automatically connects, like when you are home and you automatically connect upon booting upbecause at one point in your settings you checked that option. But on a plane (or anywhere, really), an evil hacker can set up what’s called an “evil twin,” which is a rogue wireless network specifically set up by a bad guy to trick you into manually connecting or to trick your device into automatically connecting. Once you’re hooked, all of your information travels through his device and he captures every packet of wireless data.
#1 When WiFi is not in use, head over to your wireless network manager and right-click to disable your wireless network connection. Some laptops have a switch and others have a keyboard key.
#2 If you plan to connect to in-flight service, you need to protect your information with a VPN. Hotspot Shield VPN is a free proxy that protects your device’s data by ensuring that all web transactions (shopping, filling out forms, downloads, etc.) are secured through HTTPS. With Hotspot Shield, your device basically will be surfing through a protected tunnel throughout the in-flight service.
Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield VPN. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures.