As the holiday season approaches, some of you might be in the waiting rooms of Toronto Pearson’s International Airport or St. Johns. The holiday season is a great time to fly & visit the folks, which also means you’ll spend your fair share of time at the airport. You’ll get the urge to look at the Wi-Fi networks available, see the options and hit ‘Connect’ but BEWARE!
Connecting to Airport Wi-Fi may not be as secure as you think. Sometimes you don’t even know what the airport Wi-Fi is and go with whatever’s free. Don’t take the risk of not knowing and read on, as we discuss some of the major problems of connecting to airport Wi-Fi. Not only that, but we’ll also show you our selection of the best VPN providers in Canada that can secure your surfing.
Before we talk about solutions, we will talk about problems, because you must know what’s so concerning about airport Wi-Fi. Let’s get started:
Risks of Airport Wi-Fi
- Fake Networks:
If you’ve been in a public space and seen Wi-Fi names that match the other, that spells trouble. For example, if a public space like an airport or a coffee shop has Wi-Fi names like ‘airport WiFi’, ‘airport_WiFi’, and ‘Air_port wifi’, one of these is wrong. One of these could be the correct airport Wi-Fi but the other is a fake network that you connect to, and it gets untethered access to your surfing and streaming data. This history can be used against you in the form of ransomware, and it opens your device up for trouble.
There are ways to detect it. Usually, these places list out their Wi-Fi connections on a board, receipt, or banner. So, make sure you check the spelling before connecting. Don’t just take the password and apply it on any existing Wi-Fi with a believable name and be careful.
- Free & Fake Networks:
I know we just talked about fake networks, but this deserved a whole different section. As I shared earlier, the word ‘free’ lures people to start streaming and surfing the internet almost immediately. But what a free network like ‘Free_airport WiFi’ or ‘Free_Wifi’ does is it acts as a honeypot. After connecting, your device’s internet activity is exposed.
Currently, we raise red flags in the case of free Wi-Fi. Pay if you must and don’t fall prey to these scammers. Some free Wi-Fi connections ask you to agree to some terms and conditions before connecting, which will become hazardous for your device. I’m not saying all free Wi-Fi is bad. If the airport, has it boldly displayed that they offer free Wi-Fi then make sure you connect to the correct SSID.
- Unsecured Networks:
Hackers and scammers prey on servers and networks with higher connections and consumption. Imagine how an airport Wi-Fi can be perceived as a goldmine to them. Although you’re connected to the airport Wi-Fi, you still run the risk of losing data, in case the hackers make their way into the airport Wi-Fi router. This could give them away to access your details, information, and can easily do phishing.
Phishing means luring someone into doing something they’re unaware of, in cyberspace. Your Wi-Fi might suddenly ask you to fill your data on a form to start using Wi-Fi, even though airport Wi-Fis aren’t supposed to do that. Other than phishing, your device will become vulnerable to malware, viruses, and even DNS Poisoning.
DNS Poisoning is simply malware that alters your network setting on the device. They resolve or restructure it in a way that it starts delivering all your information to their desired place. This is a common occurrence amidst airport Wi-Fis, and you must be wary of it.
- Popup Windows
Remember those days when you had to download something and there were multiple download buttons? Those are popups. You’ve probably seen a lot of ridiculous popups on your screen during your surfing. When it comes to airport Wi-Fi, you might get an update call saying, ‘your software needs an update’ or ‘your phone needs an update. Although the popup will get your device name or software version correctly, don’t fall for it. This gives way to ransomware, malware, and more cyberattacks and must be prevented.
How to avoid them?
- Using Virtual Private Networks
As mentioned earlier, a Virtual Private Network, or VPN in short, can secure your surfing experience. It is designed to give you full control over your browsing, maintain anonymity in online public spaces, and protect against loss of information or intrusion of malware. VPNs can ensure security the next time you’re surfing on the airport’s Wi-Fi. Based on user’s ratings and reviews, we have found the following 7 to be the best VPNs to opt for:
- Surfshark VPN
- IP Vanish VPN
- Cyber Ghost
- Private Internet Access
- Avoid Entering Personal Details
If you’re on the public internet, it is not the best time to be doing an online payment or applying for a survey. That is because you run the possible risk of data collection. It is best practice to utilize free Wi-Fi for simple social media scrolling and not data entry. You can reserve all the personal details work after you’re off the public internet.
- Use Mobile Data
Mobile Data is a reliable alternative when you’re unsure. It is important to note your data package whether it can sustain long hours of surfing, streaming, or not. Either way, it is a safer and much better choice when roaming.
- Disconnect and Forget
It’s possible you’re using the Wi-Fi but then you’re bored and want to read the magazines. It’s the right time to disconnect and forget the connection. The phone connected to Wi-Fi, not being used, maybe getting more used than you think. As a precautionary measure, disconnect when not needed.
Now that you are educated on the risks and solutions of using Airport Wi-fi, you are a step further towards a secure browsing experience. As cyberattacks become more common, you must stay up to date on new risks and safety measures. But for now, these measures are enough to save you from any harm during your airport layovers. Happy Holidays!