6 Ways To Safely Use Airport WiFi

By Carol Sanger
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Airport WiFi is convenient and often free, but there are risks. Attackers and hackers can easily access and exploit data from devices connected to a public Wi-Fi at airports. In fact, according to a report published earlier this year by Coronet, a cloud security firm, cybersecurity is limited at most airports and has created an environment in which attackers may access many software and cloud-based services such as Microsoft Office 365, G-Suite, Dropbox and other popular cloud apps. Hackers may also deliver malware to devices and the cloud. This is why it’s important for businesses that offer free open internet to invest in a provider that can offer them the best security possible, there are many companies that can provide these service, learn more here.

The following tips can help ensure your safety and that of your devices while using public airport WiFi networks.

  1. Verify the Airport Wifi Network Name. Before you join a network, check the spelling of the hotspot/WiFi network to ensure it exactly matches the official airport WiFi name. Beware of similar network names that are intended to mislead you into joining an unsecured network. (For example, Boston Logan Airport is LoganWifi.”)
  2. Agree to Terms & Conditions at Airport Network Opt-in Page. The opt-in screen appears when you attempt to connect. Most airport, hotel, and restaurant WiFi networks require you to enter an email address and agree to the terms and service before you can access the network. If you do not see this screen, continue your search for the airport network.
  3. Disable File and Print Sharing. Your wireless devices could be transmitting information and files over the public airport WiFi hotspot to the cloud for storage. To protect your files, disable the file and print sharing features on your device; go to settings on each device to disable and enable. For those using iPhones, consider disabling AirDrop, which wirelessly transmits information between Apple devices.
  4. Install the Latest Security Updates on Your Devices. Install the latest security updates on all the devices your travel with to prevent potential hackers from accessing and compromising your data. Operating system firmware updates, as well as updates for web browsers and apps, helps to keep your computer safer. Also, consider using a fee-based third-party internet security program to block malware and other internet threats.
  5. Access Airport Lounge Wifi Networks. Consider joining the Priority Pass program, which provides a more secure network that isn’t available to non-members. With more than 1,000 lounges in over 500 airports, chances are good that you’ll find this secure WiFi network at most major airports. Learn more about priority lounge passes membership plans, benefits, and pricing. (Tip: Some credit cards offer complimentary access to cardholders and their guests.)
  6. Subscribe to Boingo Wireless. The airport you visit may provide a private Boingo Wireless hotspot. Boingo networks are encrypted and safer than a public airport WiFi hotspot networks. (Tip: Complimentary Boingo membership is available with the American Express Platinum Card. Check eligibility here.)

The 10 Most Dangerous Airport WiFi Networks in the U.S.

Protecting your devices against vulnerabilities is your first course of action, particularly if you plan to access WiFi at any of the most dangerous airport WiFi networks. According to Coro.net, the top 10 most vulnerable airports are ranked as follows:

  1. San Diego International Airport, San Diego – threat index score: 10
  2. John Wayne Airport, Santa Ana – threat index score: 8.7
  3. William P. Hobby Airport, Houston – threat index score: 7.5
  4. South West Florida International Airport, Fort Meyers – threat index score: 7.1
  5. Newark Liberty International Airport, Newark – threat index score: 7.1
  6. Dallas Love Field, Dallas – threat index score: 6.8
  7. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Phoenix – threat index score: 6.5
  8. Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Charlotte – threat index score: 6.4
  9. Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, Detroit – threat index score: 6.4
  10. General Edward Lawrence Logan Internation Airport, Boston – threat index score: 6.4

Boston Logan Airport WiFi

Logan Airport tied with Charlotte and Detroit airports for security vulnerabilities. Now Boston Logan Airport provides free wireless Internet access that is managed by Boingo.

WiFi Safety

WiFi may not be completely safe as sophisticated hackers continue to exploit device and network vulnerabilities, but it’s much safer when you follow the steps outlined above.


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Sources: Forbes, Massport – Boston Logan, Coronet

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