Is airport public Wi-Fi cyber-secure?
“A 2018 report published by security experts Coronet ranked the 45 busiest airports in the US in which passengers were most likely to be subject to a cyberattack, with San Diego International Airport coming in at the top of the list. And these risks weren’t minor. At San Diego alone, Coronet identified a 30% chance of a passenger connecting to a medium-risk network while in the airport and an 11% probability of connecting to a high-risk network. In fact, while the company was conducting its analysis, an ‘evil twin’ Wi-Fi access point called ‘#SANfreewifi’ was operational within the airport.
While public Wi-Fi is extremely convenient, especially for business passengers and those who cannot afford to be out of touch with the outside world, connecting to an unknown network provides a very easy entry point for those looking for vulnerable devices to compromise. ‘The trouble with Wi-Fi is that current Wi-Fi security was designed by engineers and not cryptographers, and I’m afraid they’re badly flawed,’ says PA Consulting digital trust and cyber resilience expert David Alexander. ‘There are publicly available attack tools for any of the techniques used at the moment to secure Wi-Fi. Quite frankly, anything that’s available at the moment can be broken.’ While there is nothing inherent about airport networks that specifically renders them susceptible to attacks, airports themselves have been identified by many assailants as ideal locations to carry out an attack. They are unique environments where you’ll find a great deal of Wi-Fi-hungry individuals connecting to any network they can get their hands on, including businesspeople with potentially sensitive intelligence on their devices, and a place where a great deal of people will naturally be idling around on laptops, tablets and smartphones, making any suspicious activity much easier to hide.”