Beware of “Free” Airport WiFi
Sorry to break it to you, but there is such thing as dangerous airport WiFi. In fact, it’s usually the free WiFi that many travelers are quick to connect to. This may not come as much of a surprise to everyone, but it’s important to keep at the front of your mind while traveling. Cyber security companies work hard to hammer this message into our brains, and for good reason, too. We are echoing the importance of always knowing your network connection to make sure your information stays safe.
So, the next time you have to wait at the airport and you want to pass the time on your laptop or phone, think twice before jumping onto the free WiFi (even though it is so easy to do it).
The risks of free airport WiFi
Plain and simple: hackers love airports. At the airport, there are hundreds, if not thousands of people to target. A recent Norton WiFi Risk Report found that 53% of people have no idea whether a WiFi network is secure or not. Most people don’t think twice about connecting to a network if it is free as long as it gets them connected online. By choosing convenience over privacy, users are highly vulnerable to cyberattacks and having all of their data collected simply by connecting to the network.
Connecting to an unsecure network like most free WiFi networks at an airport can allow a hacker to install malware onto your device, steal your passwords, download your data and more.
What about the airport WiFi network that charges a fee? Don’t trust those either. Most of those networks still require you to enter some type of personal information, like a phone number or email to gain access.
How to still get free WiFi without the risks
Good news! There are ways to get connected without risking your privacy. For one, you can use the personal hotspot on your smartphone. These days, most smartphones have one. If you go with this option, it’s a good idea to have your phone plugged in and charging, because the downside is that using your phone’s hotspot can quickly drain the battery.
Your other option is to use a virtual private network (VPN) if you are going to connect to a public WiFi network. Using a VPN service will cost you some dollars, but it will save your data. A VPN is like a protective barrier for all of your data.
Remember, having to go without screen time to avoid a privacy breach is always worth it. But, if you must connect, take the extra minute or two to do it the smart way.