The dangers of rogue Wi-Fi Hotspots in Airports

Just when you thought your troubles were over after long immigration queues, a delayed flight, cancelled flights, congestion, long immigration queues,extra baggage fees, intrusive security screening there is just one more problem you might endure before you finally board your flight, rogue Wi-Fi access points in airport lounges!

Many travelers are only too happy to settle at the lounge for a few moments online to do some business, write  a few reports, reply to a few emails before a long flight and update friends and family via social media before boarding flight. Sometimes, delayed flights might force travelers to wait for hours in an airport lounge. To easen the burden and anxiety on travelers, many airports have installed free Wi-Fi hotspots on airport lounges to enable travelers to get online before boarding the aircraft.

Free Wi-Fi at the airport comes with the dangers of rogue Wi-Fi access points
What you might not know is that hackers and cybercriminals might also be sitting in the same lounge, masquerading as free public Wi-Fi providers to gain access to travelers laptops and steal private information, read your emails, your bank account details, reports and more private information.

These fake Wi-Fi hotspots are called "rogue Wi-Fi" as it's not the official Wi-Fi provided by the airport but an illegal local network set up to infiltrate your information. It's very difficult for a traveler to differentiate between a good internet access point and a rogue network.

The traveler's laptop will simply provide list of Wi-Fi spots available and the traveler will randomly connect to one of the available options, especially if it has a 'familiar' name like "Airport Wi-Fi" or "free Airport-Wi-Fi". It's virtually impossible for the traveler to determine which is which and therein lies the loophole that hackers and cybercriminals exploit.

Many airport security are not trained in monitoring rogue Wi-Fi Access Points in the airport and are in many cases more concerned with the more important task of ensuring physical security at the airport to prevent the next underwear bomber from slipping past the airport security system.

This gives the hackers a free ride in the airport. They might just be your regular guy using their laptop while in the real sense, they are actually setting up a rogue Wi-Fi access point.

As a traveler, it's safe to connect to Facebook, Twitter or other social networks but exercise great caution when performing online transactions which will require you to enter your credit card information! One sure way to exercise caution is ascertain the true identity of the legitimate airport Wi-Fi by for example asking around and connecting to only those networks whose identities you trust. Make sure that your communication is secure, disconnect the wireless when you stop using it, and maintain the list of wireless connections that you use on your laptop so that you don't accidentally connect to networks that may spring up when you're traveling.

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