For the most part, the last thing any of us want to do is spend more time in an airport than we have to. Yet because we don’t want to miss our flights, we often get there a bit on the early side.
That means waiting, be it in the terminal, a restaurant, airport bar or wherever. Technology has done plenty to help this process, with laptops, tablets and smartphones all aiding us while biding our time and waiting to board.
A great help for us is airports offering Wi-Fi for us to take advantage of. Sometimes it’s free and other times you have to pay, but either way, it is unfortunately ripe for hackers and cybercriminals.
Some airports are more vulnerable than others
It should not come as surprise that airports make for excellent targets, given the number of people who pass through them and the lack of care in which they probably give to their devices. Travelers who may be stressed or in a hurry could connect to whichever network comes up without a second thought.
That can lead to plenty of problems, as not all networks are legitimate. Instead, they are just there hoping you will log in and they can then cause all sorts of problems.
Issues arise from a combination of device and network problems, though some airports are worse than others. Research done by the cybersecurity company Coronet revealed that public Wi-Fi in 45 of the United States’ busiest airports is more likely to be problematic, posing a threat to travelers.
The data used were compiled from more than 250,000 consumer and corporate endpoints that traveled through the airports over a five-month span, Coronet said. They then analyzed the data, which included active and updated anti-malware, active and updated firewalls, trusted apps, password protections and disk/storage encryption, among other factors.
In terms of networks, however, Coronet scanned both connected and neighboring Wi-Fi signals and assessed the risk score of them all. Essentially, the goal was to see which posed the greater chance of connecting to a bad network, either in the airport or around it.
What are they? With No. 1 being the worst, here they are in descending order:
10. General Edward Lawrence Logan International Airport, Boston
9. Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, Detroit
8. Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Charlotte
7. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Phoenix
6. Dallas Love Field, Dallas
5. Newark Liberty International Airport, Newark
4. Southwest Florida International Airport, Fort Myers
3. William P. Hobby Airport, Houston
2. John Wayne Airport-Orange County Airport, Santa Ana
1. San Diego International Airport, San Diego
The airports were judged on the probability of connecting to either a medium risk or high-risk network. For San Diego, the numbers are 30 and 11 percent, respectively.
On the flip side, some airports are more stout with security than others. Coronet also created a list of the top 10 most secure airports in the United States.
Topping the list is Chicago Midway International Airport, Raleigh Durham International Airport, Nashville International Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport and San Antonio International Airport rounding out the top five.
Keep your devices safe
If you are planning to travel to any of the poorly-rated airports, or really just traveling at all, there are certain things you can do to keep your devices safe. One would be to not connect to Wi-Fi at all and instead use data, though if your plan is limited that may not be a great option.
You will also want to turn off your phone’s sharing and turn on a firewall, if you can. You could also use a VPN, check for SSL and use two-step authentication.