How safe is airport WiFi? Tips to avoid getting hacked

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Earlier this week, ESET Senior Security Researcher Stephen Cobb appeared on NBC 7 San Diego to discuss a report that named San Diego International Airport as the airport where people are most likely to get hacked. This was based on the safety and security of the airport’s wireless access points (or, simply said, WiFi networks) available to visitors.

The reality is, these types of malicious WiFi hotspots can be found in many public venues, so taking precautions – not just at airports – is critical to ensure a bad actor does not steal your data, passwords, spy on you, etc. Cobb shared some basic cybersecurity tips that everyone can use to avoid falling victim to getting hacked via malicious WiFi.

To stay secure at airports (and other public places) during the summer travel season and beyond, here are a few basic safety precautions to take:

·       ·       To connect to the internet while traveling (or in a public place) use your cellular phone’s hotspot feature, or buy/rent a mobile hotspot (which can be used in hotels as well as airports and even in the car).

·       If you absolutely have to connect to public WiFi networks, be sure to connect to a legitimate one. Sometimes attackers will set up a malicious network (an “evil twin” or “spoof”) to trick you into logging into a network with a similar or same name. It never hurts to verify with the facility the proper one to connect to.

·       Try to avoid logging into sensitive services such as banking applications or email.

·       Consider using your smartphone’s cellular service, which is always more secure than public WiFi.

·       Use basic security services such as an antimalware / antivirus and consider a VPN.

If you are looking for a reputable security software, there are many good ones out there that cover nearly all operating systems. For example, ESET Smart Security Premium protects your Windows and Mac devices from cyber threats, and improves your chances of recovery if your device is lost or stolen. (Macs are susceptible to malware/viruses too!)

Make sure to take these few extra precautions and don’t let a thief steal your fun.

Check out some additional summer travel tips (here) to keep your mobile devices secure when you land at your destination.