How to make sure your data doesn’t crash and burn

10 tips to protecting your data while in-flight.

Airline wi-fi security
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Put your data in an upright position

The dangers of public Wi-Fi are already well known, but the security issues of in-flight Internet connection are still somewhat obscure. Typically there's no password protection on the Wi-Fi connection, so persons with malicious intent can intercept data that’s being transmitted on the wireless network quite easily.

Airplanes are unique hacking grounds more dangerous than airports or coffee shops, as they cram passengers in one small space for hours. This gives plenty of time and opportunity for hackers to access all data that’s being transmitted over open networks. Passengers who do online banking, shopping or business emailing are especially vulnerable to identity and data theft.

Devices such as WiFi Pineapple are accessible to anyone and are particularly dangerous on flights. The Pineapple, which is small enough to be stored in someone’s carry on, could be used as a pretend Wi-Fi connection so when a user connects to Wi-Fi, they are actually connecting to a device capable of hacking your private data. NordVPN provides 10 tips to better secure your data.

in-flight wifi
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Designate the network as Public

First, when a traveler connects to airline Wi-Fi, they get to designate the Wi-Fi network as Home, Work or Public. Those who choose Home network show that they trust all the people connected to the same network - which should not be the case on an airplane full of strangers. Work network should be used for a private group at work. So the safest option for airplane passengers is Public network setting - as this option is created to make sure it’s not visible by other computers.

in-flight wifi
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Make sure you are connecting to an official airline network

Travelers have to make sure they are connecting to the Wi-Fi network offered on the flight, and not a look-a-like network with a similar-sounding name that might be spoofed.

in-flight wifi
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Beware of keyloggers

Keyloggers work by intercepting your keystrokes from your keyboard to the computer either through hardware or software - and you are especially vulnerable if you are e-banking on in-flight Wi-Fi. Therefore, use password managers - instead of typing in a password to one of your more sensitive and important accounts, your password manager will have it saved for you. All you need to do is click on the account and it will be filled in for you.

in-flight wifi
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Use strong passwords

Perhaps the most basic requirement for any online account set-up is using strong passwords. Weak passwords make it simple for hackers to break into your account.

in-flight wifi
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Use a VPN

Besides these local precautions, the most effective way for a traveler to protect their data is to use a VPN. A professional VPN service encrypts all the traffic flow between the internet and a device and helps hide an IP address. How does it work? Log in (the first time only) and press the ON button. The app will then choose the fastest server to connect to, in a country of your choice. Beware of free VPN service providers that typically rely on third-party advertisers to cover the costs. Often, they are free proxy services, marketed as VPNs, when in fact proxies are not encrypted (they just change your IP address, but do not encrypt it).

in-flight wifi
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Use antivirus on your computer

Make sure your computer has installed one of the newest antivirus systems. You should have the antivirus turned on - at all times.

in-flight wifi
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Use firewall

You have to make sure your computer’s built-in firewall is turned on, as it offers additional protection from hackers and viruses.

in-flight wifi
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Use anti-spyware

Anti-spyware protects from unwanted spyware program installations, and also removes these programs if they are installed.

in-flight wifi
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Block trackers

Prevent third-party websites from tracking and following you online by using browser add-ons that block cross-site tracking. One good option is the Privacy Badger, the brainchild of Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

in-flight wifi
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Exercise utmost caution

It is very likely you won’t be able to connect to a VPN on the flight. 1) On-flight wifi can be very slow - making the VPN connection that much more difficult; 2) Airlines offer their own security measures - by collecting passenger personal data and monitoring online activity as a security measure. Considering the vulnerable nature of airplanes, it is reasonable for airlines to exercise caution. In turn, you should exercise caution and limit your activity on the web while in the sky. Avoid sensitive transactions, updating personal data, and any other activities that might expose your personal information.