Flying Naked: Why Airplane Wifi Is So Unsafe


Wifi in airplanes is expensive — up to $12.95 for a single flight.So one can assume that those who use it have important, and probably confidential, information that they need to communicate.

However, the fact is that wifi in airplanes is just as insecure as free wifi offered in your corner coffee shop.

Ben Miller is a consultant who helps hotels and other businesses with their wifi  installations.

He recently wrote a great post about Gogo, which provides the wifi service for American, Delta, United, and several other airlines.

Ben points out the following security problems with Gogo:

  • No encryption is used for Gogo’s wifi. This means that applications like Firesheep allow hackers to steal login information for Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and most email systems.
  • The authentication system used to charge passengers for Internet access is not fully secure. This means that anyone who knows how to spoof a MAC address (YouTube videos show you how to do it) can use the purchaser’s MAC address to piggyback on the service for free.
  • In some circumstances, your device will continue searching for “gogoinflight” networks even after you leave the plane. This means that a you could inadvertently connect to an “Evil Twin” using that name, perhaps belonging to a hacker in the airport lounge. Think of free public wifi as “bait” by an Evil Twin thief.

Of course, Ben recommends a personal VPN as a way to protect private communications over wifi networks. What bad security habit will you fix before your next flight?

Get Private Wifi   Protect your personal information.
Get DataCompress   Cut your mobile data usage.

Kent Lawson

Kent Lawson is the CEO & Chairman of Private Communications Corporation and creator of its flagship software PRIVATE WiFi. He combined his extensive business and technical experience to develop PRIVATE WiFi in 2010. The software is an easy-to-use Virtual Private Network (VPN) that protects your sensitive personal information whenever you’re connected to a public WiFi network. Follow Kent on Twitter: @KentLawson.

3 Responses

  1. September 27, 2011

    […] a virtual private network is your best defense – from the minute you can access free WiFi on the plane to the late hours using your hotel room’s wireless signal to finish work projects – a personal […]

  2. December 19, 2011

    […] Here's a summary with less tech talk.…-is-so-unsafe/ […]

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