Connecting to wi-fi while travelling?

Watch out for sniffing, side jacking and juice jacking!


“I hacked your email on the plane and read everything you sent and received. I did it to most people on the flight.”

This is the eerie message journalist Steven Petrow received last year after logging onto the wi-fi on the plane to catch up on work.

Ever heard of ‘sniffing’, ‘side jacking’ or ‘social engineering’? The kind of harmful attacks your wi-fi network could be subjected to keeps growing, and so does the nifty vocabulary that goes with it. Each of these attacks uses a different technique to hack into your computer, but the result remains the same: your data gets stolen.

So, what’s the solution?

First prize would be not to connect to public wi-fi at all. But, the reality is that for most road warriors who want to make the most of their travel time, this simply isn’t an option.

If you’re going to connect to public wi-fi, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a non-negotiable. By using a VPN, you can hide all your internet activities from the attackers. The best thing is that it’s quite easy to set up, and there are several reliable free VPN software options on the market.

Take note however that even when protected by VPN, public charging stations at the airport could still be a risk, and expose you to juice jacking. This is a way of stealing the entire data stored in your phone via the USB charging cable. When you use the USB port of public charging stations, you are actually granting the hackers access to all your data unknowingly.

If you’ve managed to survive the airport and the plane-ride hack-free, there’s still one more obstacle you should take into consideration: the international laws and regulations on digital information.

Is the government watching when you access your webmail in another country? Is the novel you saved on your iPad considered pornographic in the country you’re visiting? And did you know that some countries will compel you to provide them with the data on your iPad or laptop, even if the data is corporate intellectual property?

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