Following the news that a map can show free Wi-Fi locations and passwords from airports around the world, here are a couple of comments from a number of highly respected security professionals:
Lee Munson, security researcher for Comparitech.com:
“So a map, available to download for offline use, shows the location of many airports’ Wi-Fi connections, along with the password required to use them while you are waiting for your plane to depart. Awesome, right?
“On the whole, it does sound pretty cool – a free internet connection at a time when you may otherwise be bored senseless, waiting around for a few hours in a departure lounge of overpriced refreshment stores – is not to be sneezed at. But is it secure?
“Largely, I would guess the connections highlighted on the map are sound, as long as they were researched properly, but the risk associated with using a tool like this is that people may become blasé about their security.
“If you are in the airport and cannot find the right wireless connection, you may be tempted to connect to another service and this is where cyber criminal come into play. Nothing is free and so that wireless hotspot you saw called “free Wi-Fi” may just be paying for itself by stealing your data.
“And, heaven forbid, you use it to engage in some internet banking, or to make a duty free payment – who knows who is recording those credit card numbers.
“Also, be aware of using free Wi-Fi to login to any sites or accounts that require a password – if you’ve accidentally connected to a malicious network, those accounts are now compromised.
“So, while this tool is useful, do not rely on it too much – if you need to connect to the internet while at the airport, check the network name and password with staff before proceeding.”
Alex Mathews, EMEA technical manager at Positive Technologies:
“Public WiFi networks, like those in airports, are very unsafe. First, everyone can intercept yor data in such open communication. Second, these wireless access points are easy to fake: you will see the WiFi network with the same name and password but it won’t be the official airport WiFi, it may come from a smartphone of a guy sitting next to you. You may be given some fake sites via this unsecure WiFi as well – so you will leak your password to fake Facebook page, for example.
“For this reason we’d recommend to avoid any critical operations via public Wi-Fi: banking, shopping, any password-protected services. You’d better turn WiFi off completely while you travel.”