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October 10, 2019

Prioritize Your Airport Cybersecurity

In an increasingly digital society, cybersecurity has become a principal topic in privacy and data protection. From government databases to personal emails, privacy and vulnerability are legitimate concerns which require taking extra steps to secure all this data. This is especially true while traveling, as those on the road connect to different Wi-Fi networks, are often carrying sensitive or personal information, and are simply in unfamiliar settings.  Below, we’ve listed common terms to know and scams to avoid, as well as measures travelers can take to minimize the risk of being hacked.

  • Wireless Phishing – This is where a corrupted code or possible virus is loaded into a legitimate and trustworthy source, and then loaded onto a device- typically in a seemingly harmless “software update.”
  • Honeypot – Honeypots are Wi-Fi networks using seemingly reliable names like “Free_Airport_Wifi” to lure you into connecting your device. Often, they ask for personal information such as your name, phone number, credit card information, and more.
  • Evil Twin –As the name implies, these are networks that mimic a legitimate network connection by adding slight changes to the network name. A common example would be “LAX_AirPort_Public” versus “lax_airport_public”.

Familiarizing yourself with common hacking strategies is just the first step. Follow some of these best practices and helpful hints to keep your data and tech safe while traveling.

  • Verify the Network Name – Double check for possible scams such as an Evil Twin network, and check for signage in the terminals identifying the real network name.
  • Use Lounge Wi-Fi Access – If you are a part of a club that offers members-only lounges, use the wireless access from within the lounge. Typically, these networks are private to members only and come with less risk due to less people on the same connection and the requirement of a password to access the network.
  • Use ONLY HTTPS Sites – While surfing the internet, check that the web address includes “https.” Those without an ‘s’ are less secure and more prone to hacking or viruses. It is smart to follow the prompts of your internet browser, as they will typically warn you when accessing an unsecure site.
  • Install Security Updates – Make sure all devices such as laptops, phones, and tablets are up to date before heading to the airport. This will ensure you do not have to download anything such as new software while in a vulnerable position on a public network.
  • Disable Sharing – Most devices can print and share files wirelessly; Utilizing this feature while on a public network can make your devices vulnerable. Access your settings and turn this capability off until you are connected to a secure network.  Those who use iPhones should also consider turning off the AirDrop feature that allows nearby Apple devices to share files with other devices.

Being proactive and vigilant is important in all aspects of travel in order to stay safe- protecting your technology devices and personal data is no exception. Utilizing these tips and practicing caution will not only allow for greater safety but will also provide peace of mind whether at home or abroad.

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