A new study shows that San Diego International Airport is the most unsecure airport in the U.S. when it comes to cybersecurity, while Chicago-Midway is the one where travelers can feel the safest about their digital lives.
According to the survey, which was conducted by Coronet, a cloud security company based in Israel, Wi-Fi security at U.S. airports is often sacrificed for consumer convenience, leaving networks unencrypted, unsecured or improperly configured.
“It’s quite usual to pass the time while waiting for a flight on our smartphones or laptops. Nevertheless, in some airports, it might be not such a good idea,” says Daniel Markuson, Digital Privacy Expert at NordVPN. “It is an important issue, as cyber criminals might be using the airport Wi-Fi network weaknesses to get their hands onto sensitive personal or corporate data.”
Coronet’s Airport Threat Score ranking collected data from more than 250,000 users, both private and business travelers, who traveled through the 45 busiest U.S. airports over the course of five months.
As stated in the report, “even for those airports that do prioritize security, attack techniques such as the Key Reinstallation Attack (KRACK), which can break the WPA2 protocol to capture or expose information shared over public and private Wi-Fi, presents significant risk to passengers in transit.”
What can you do to stay safe?
Daniel Markuson, Digital Privacy Expert at NordVPN, shares some tips on what you should and shouldn’t do on an airport Wi-Fi.
Don’t connect to any Wi-Fi. This is the most important one – if you see two similar Wi-Fi names at the airport, remember that one of them may be fake. The same rule applies to the networks with strange or unusual names. If in doubt, better double-check with the airport staff before joining any network.
Disable automatic connections, GPS, Bluetooth and file sharing. This will prevent your computer or smartphone from automatically joining airport networks, unwillingly sharing your location or opening your device to other threats. If you are sharing your mobile data from your smartphone to computer, be sure to protect the connection with a password. Also, it’s always best to turn off file sharing on your computer while you’re on a public network. Do that to stay safe.
Don’t log into sensitive accounts or shop online. If you’re on a public Wi-Fi of an airport, the safest advice is to simply avoid going into your bank and other sensitive accounts, like work email. These hold the most appeal to hackers. Alsos, avoid shopping or booking hotels while on an airport network.
Get a reliable VPN, firewall and other security solutions. Don’t like the idea of someone snooping on your online activities while on airport Wi-Fi? Then buying yourself a reliable VPN, like NordVPN, is what you should be doing at this very moment. A VPN will encrypt your browsing activities and prevent various fraudsters from using your sensitive data for their own benefit. By the way, go ahead and check if your firewall is turned on. An easy step, but a crucial one.
According to Coronet, the most secure airports in the U.S. are:
- Chicago-Midway International Airport
- Raleigh Durham International Airport
- Nashville International Airport
- Washington Dulles International Airport
- San Antonio International Airport
- Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport
- Kansas City International Airport
- Lambert St. Louis International Airport
- Miami International Airport
- Tampa International Airport
The least secure airports, according to the study, are:
- San Diego International Airport
- John Wayne Airport-Orange County Airport
- William P. Houston Hobby Airport
- Southwest Florida International Airport
- Newark Liberty International Airport
- Dallas Love Field
- Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
- Charlotte Douglas International Airport
- Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport
- Boston Logan International Airport