I don’t know about you, but in-flight WiFi is one of my favorite modern travel conveniences. I can catch up on work, clear out my inbox, and finally see the latest episodes of my favorite shows. I can even double check that my office is secure. However, with additional fees for baggage, food, and seat choices, using WiFi should feel like an accessible treat rather than yet another expense. Here are a few ways you can score it for free or nearly free.
Be a cardholder
Gogo is a service that offers passengers access to the web, available where network coverage exists. You can purchase one hour access, one day access, or even one month of access. Airlines serviced by Gogo include Virgin America, United, American, Alaska Airlines, Air Canada, and Delta.
I was pleasantly surprised recently to learn that my Business Platinum Card from American Express gives me free access to Gogo’s in-flight WiFi. Although it can be a hard card to be approved for, you may be surprised that you do qualify for it or already have a card that comes with additional travel perks.
Check with your cell phone provider
If you have an account with T-Mobile, you’re in luck. In addition to lowering their fees for cell phone service, they also offer free unlimited texting on flights PLUS a free hour of Gogo in-flight WiFi for each flight you take — and there aren’t any limits on the number of times you can take advantage of this offer.
Not a T-Mobile subscriber? Check with your carrier for further information about what they can provide for you. Many carriers have promotions for their business oriented consumers that you may not be aware of.
If you’ve been considering a flight with JetBlue, you now have one very good reason to book the seat. JetBlue is the only airline that not only offers WiFi at each and every seat, but they offer it for free. The service, called Fly-Fi, is provided by Amazon and available on all domestic flights, free of charge to all passengers. There are also a number of JetBlue terminals that provide free WiFi.
If JetBlue isn’t an option in your area, check other airlines for their promotions. Some airlines have promotions for specific destinations and routes.
Keep an eye out for offers and promotions
Every once in awhile, companies will offer free Gogo access to customers as an added perk. Keep an eye out for these deals and take advantage of them while you can (hint: social media and travel sites are good places to check). You don’t always have to buy anything either. For instance, T-Mobile has been known to offer a free hour of Gogo access to everyone flying on certain holiday weekends (even if you weren’t a customer).
Buy in advance
If you aren’t able to find free Gogo access for your next flight, you can at least get it at a discounted rate by buying early. By logging in at Gogo.com, you’ll have access to Wifi rates that are cheaper than you’ll find in the air. For instance, a one-hour pass is $7 online by buying early. If you are a frequent traveler, you may want to take advantage of their monthly or yearly passes.
As the saying goes, time is money. Taking advantage of the distraction-free time spent up in the air is often a good way to stay ahead (although I totally understand needing to go off the grid every once in a while). If you know in advance that you’ll want to use the internet in-flight — and can’t snag access for free — it’s worth it to at least save a little money by buying ahead.
Published: May 28, 2018
If you travel for business or pleasure and need to stay connected while in the air or on the ground, check out which cards offer free vouchers before paying expensive fees.
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- Some cards offer 10-12 free Gogo vouchers annually for in-flight Wi-Fi.
- Your card may qualify you for free Boingo membership, with 1 million hot spots worldwide.
- Many hotels offer complimentary Wi-Fi to cardholders, loyalty members.
If you spend any time working on the road, then counting on cellphone reception is risky at best. A bad connection can make your work day null and void, and even a portable hot spot won’t help you get your phone or laptop online.
The online picture is much rosier than even just a decade ago, especially as credit cards are bundling free, accessible Wi-Fi into their benefits. Here’s how you can take advantage.
Logging on while in the air
In-flight Wi-Fi has become much more commonplace with Gogo currently dominating the space. It charges $50 a month for unlimited access on pariticipating domestic flights and $70 a month for international access on Delta flights. For global access on any participating airline, the rate is $599 annually. You can also purchase an hour or day pass.
If those prices seem steep, you’ll be happy to know some credit cards are now throwing in-flight Wi-Fi into their perks package. The U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature Card gives 12 annual in-flight Wi-Fi passes for Gogo ($49 annual fee, waived first year). The Business Platinum Card® from American Express offers 10 free Gogo passes a year ($595 annual fee).
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If you are only interested in the free Wi-Fi, clearly U.S. Bank is the better option, but if you’re interested in a bunch of other freebies and perks, American Express Platinum has got you covered, with an annual $200 airline credit, airport lounge access, free Global Entry pass and if you’re patient, the card sometimes comes with a 75,000 or 100,000 point sign-up bonus.
Other cards, like the Expedia + Voyager Card from Citi, may not offer free passes for a specific Wi-Fi service, but they allow you to apply your annual travel credit to in-flight Wi-Fi.
And, if you have T-Mobile, you’re in luck when it comes to communicating while up in the air. Customers get free texting through sites such as WhatsApp and one free hour of Wi-Fi service on every flight through Gogo.
Internet access while on the road
For Wi-Fi on the ground, Boingo is one of the big players. It has Wi-Fi zones at airports and general public areas around the world, with more than a million international hot spots. For domestic plans, it will cost you about $10 a month for unlimited access and $40 a month for global, unlimited access.
Before you register for one of their plans, however, look in your wallet as you may have a card that already gives you free access.
The Platinum Card® from American Express comes with unlimited Boingo access on up to four devices, as does the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Card from American Express. It’s not automatic, though, so you’ll want to register through your card’s online portal and the Boingo website before traveling, so you have it ready to go when you need it.
The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Card comes with immediate silver status for cardholders, which includes free Wi-Fi (and free premium Wi-Fi starting in August) for both Marriott and Starwood Preferred Guest properties. Starwood also has free Wi-Fi for SPG Gold members, which is complimentary through the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Card from American Express.
Additionally, you can become an SPG Gold member through the Platinum Card by American Express.
Even if you don’t use a co-branded hotel card, some chains will give you free Wi-Fi just for becoming a member of their hotel loyalty program and booking your room through their site instead of a third-party site.
When traveling for business, it’s worth knowing which card will make it a little easier to get your work done without having to shell out a lot of money to stay connected.
The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.
Damon Brown helps side hustlers, solopreneurs and other nontraditional entrepreneurs bloom. He co-founded the popular platonic connection app Cuddlr and led it to acquisition within a year. He is author of the best-selling Ultimate Bite-Sized Entrepreneur, writes a daily Inc.com column and he his public speaking has been featured in TED Talks.
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- WiFi Hot Spots in South Africa
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- How to Access WiFi for My Laptop When in Motels
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If you’re a computer junkie or someone who works from a laptop, one of your first questions when traveling will be “is there WiFi available?” Luckily, many hotels, coffee shops and retail locations offer free or paid WiFi service for customers. There also tools that you can purchase that will allow you to access the Internet just about anywhere without the need to rely on a third party.
Items you will need
- Wireless adapter
Book a room at a hotel that explicitly advertises free (or paid) WiFi service to patrons. Ask the hotel clerk for the WiFi login information when you check into your room.
Search for wireless connections at the airport. Some airports have complementary WiFi service for travelers. See “Resources” for a list of airports.
Find a coffee shop or restaurant that offers free or paid wireless access. Ask workers show to access the network.
Call your wireless phone company to ask if there are WiFi plans available. Major cell phone providers like Verizon and AT&T now allow you to access the Internet on a laptop or computer using your phone. The phone acts as a modem. The monthly fees vary from about $15 to $60 per month depending on your service—a good investment to make if you are a frequent traveler. Verizon also has mini laptop devices with built in wireless modems to access the Internet anywhere your phone service works.
published by Bren
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Take a moment to think about your phone.
Think about how much stuff is on there.
How much personal stuff.
How much stuff you would never want anyone else to see.
The angry email you sent your ex boyfriend ten years ago. All the flirty text messages from Jessica at reception. Your artistic naked selfies. The dirty jokes you send to your work colleagues, photos of your grandparents, probably even your credit card and passport and tax information.
When it comes to your phone, it’s all just a swipe or two away.
If you gave your phone to a stranger for an hour, imagine how much they would know about you. They would know more about you than your mother and your best friend combined.
And your laptop?
Shiver. Don’t even think about it.
But here’s the scariest part:
Every time you connect to free wifi, you may be giving somebody an invitation to all of it.
As travellers, we’re suckers for free wifi. At a cafe, a hostel, an airport, sometimes, we don’t even know who the wifi belongs to. If it’s free and has no password, we’re on it like rats. I mean, we gotta post those hilarious snaps from the beach yesterday, right?
But wifi is a network. That means computers, phones, providers – they all become connected. If the security isn’t up to date, or someone shady set up the network, you may have a few uninvited guests looking through your devices. And it can turn out a lot worse than you think.
The truth is, you can only do so much to protect yourself online. There is always going to be a chance of you getting targeted, but there are still many things you can do to minimise the risk.
Follow the tips below, and hopefully the only person browsing your naked selfies on your next trip will be you.
It’s always important to check that the website you’re using is secure. You can do this simply by checking the security information in a trusted browser like Chrome of Firefox. If a website’s connection is safe, it will be indicated by a green lock to the left of the URL, like so:
If you’re on a public network (or any network!) try to avoid entering any sensitive information on a non-secured website. This includes things like passwords, credit card numbers, and other personal details.
App security is less stringent than browser security. If you are using apps from well known brands, such as Paypal, you’ll probably be okay. But try to avoid entering any sensitive information into apps from lesser known companies. This is particularly important if you use the same password for various websites – even if you’re willing to risk a casual forum or game account, hackers can start trying those login details for every other website, including emails and social media. Stick to using your browser rather than apps, and only on secure websites.
Make sure your files are secure. Often when using our laptops on a home network we share folders with our friends and sisters and parents. This is fine, as long as you remember to turn it off when you connect to public wifi. If you forget to turn off file sharing, that means every other person connected to the same wifi network (yes, everyone) has an open pass to see what’s on your computer.
Some newer computers are smart and will automatically turn this off for you when you connect to a public wifi, but you should double check anyway. To turn off file sharing, simply search for “Advanced Sharing Settings” in the Windows search bar, and you’ll come to a window like this:
Simply turn off discovery and file sharing and you’re good. For you Mac users, you can find the same options under “Sharing” in your System Preferences.
Let’s say you’re in a shopping mall. The shopping mall advertises free wifi throughout the mall, just connect and accept the terms and conditions. Sounds great, right? And it might be great for your social media addiction, but not so good for security. The easier it is to connect to a wifi network, the easier it is for bad stuff to be happening on it.
A better option is to look for a coffee shop or restaurant inside the mall, and use their private wifi network instead. If the network is hidden and/or you need to ask the staff for the password – even better.
Never connect your devices to any free wifi network without an up to date antivirus. Most laptops these days come with a built in software, like Windows Defender, which should be sufficient for most people. Of course, you can step up and download a software like Avast, which is free and gives you an extra layer of protection.
If you’re like me and just want a set-and-forget option, I’d recommend using a VPN. A VPN is a “Virtual Private Network”, which acts as your own private internet bodyguard.
The way a VPN works is it hides your IP address and encrypts your connection, so that everything you send over the internet is hidden. Think of it like a ninja connection – whenever you send information, nobody knows what it was or where it came from. You may be familiar with using a VPN for work; often a requirement if you work for government or handle sensitive information. However, your personal details are just as, if not more, important than your work stuff, so you should be using a VPN on your personal devices too.
Luckily VPNs are cheap and accessible these days, so there really is no excuse to not be using one. The VPN I use is called Private Internet Access and I have been using them for many years. They’re affordable, allow multiple devices, and are super fast and user friendly. You can click here to look at their plans.
If you’d like to learn more about VPNs, why they’re important and how to use them, you can check out my beginner’s guide here.
While I generally don’t have a problem using wifi in restaurants and cafes with secure passwords, I try to avoid connecting to large open wifi networks in airports and malls. Instead, I purchase a local sim card with data, and will use that on my phone and/or tether to my laptop any time I need to get connected. Even with a VPN, I tend to take the ‘better safe than sorry’ route, especially as I’m constantly checking bank accounts and other important information. Data is usually cheap these days, and for around $20 a month you can get more gigabytes than a normal human being should need. Alternatively, you can invest in a pocket wifi to keep you connected 24/7. The best way to stay safe on public wifi is to not use it at all.
Like I said these steps will not make you bulletproof, but will definitely reduce your chance of being a target.
Public Wi-Fi is easy, yes. But safe? Not really.
T hanks to the nearly universal accessibility of public Wi-Fi, FaceTiming mom in Houston while you’re slurping pho in Hanoi is remarkably easy these days. As of this year, there is one Wi-Fi hot spot for every 28 people on Earth. Connectivity is not so much a luxury as it is an expectation.
However, as easy as connecting to public Wi-Fi may seem, the dangers that go along with it should not be taken lightly.
In February of 2015, USA Today reporter Steven Petrow spent a three-hour flight from Dallas to Raleigh catching up on work using American Airlines’ GoGo Wi-Fi service. When he left the plane, a fellow passenger approached him, warned him of his vulnerability, and proved his point by directly quoting sensitive emails Petrow had written while on board.
What vulnerabilities are you susceptible to with public Wi-Fi?
Keith Waldorf, VP of Engineering at iPass, tells this story as a cautionary tale for all Wi-Fi users. iPass is a global hot-spot service based in Silicon Valley that provides secure networks for businesses around the world.
“This kind of snooping can happen to anybody that is unaware of the dangers of public Wi-Fi,” says Waldorf. “The hacker was doing something we call sniffing, or side-jacking, which means that he’s on the same network and basically keeping tabs on what you’re doing and what information you’re sending and receiving.”
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Petrow got off lucky. This kind of snooping allows hackers to piece together information about their victims, which then they can either sell (ever wonder why you get calls offering a “free cruise”?) or use for future and potentially more harmful exploitations. A more direct version of this attack is a man-in-the-middle breach, also known as MitM. Here, a hacker intercepts a Wi-Fi user’s online communications and is able to send and receive sensitive information without him or her knowing. Wi-Fi users are particularly susceptible to MitM attacks when accessing online banking platforms or any site that requires a login.
Another—and probably most menacingly named—attack is the evil twin.
“Say you’re in a Starbucks,” says Waldorf, “And you see a wireless network named ‘Starbucks.’ You hit connect and it takes you to a login page where you enter some personal information like your email address and phone number. Of course, you’re not going to question it because the name seems legitimate, and you’re in a popular public spot.” Despite its friendly name, there’s a chance that it’s a hacker broadcasting his or her own signal. Like MitM and side-jacking attacks, this “evil twin” connection gives hackers access to a slew of sensitive personal information.
With this short list of common dangers, safely using Wi-Fi might seem like an impossible task. Luckily, there are several ways to be smart and safe on the go. Here’s how.
How to stay safe while using public WiFi
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When you’re on the road and have more information stored on your device than usual (think: scans of your passport, credit cart and flight numbers, hotel names and addresses), safely getting online is essential. Anti-viruses and malware will protect users against viruses, yes. But network snooping? No.
Use a network encryption service
The best thing you can do is use a network encryption service, which, in its simplest form, hides your activity from any potential hackers on the same network.
Subscribe to a VPN service
You can and should subscribe to a VPN service, which reroutes your activity to a known, secure wireless hot spot. There are a dizzying amount of options to choose from, but Hotspot Shield has a highly rated mobile and desktop app, as does VPN Unlimited.
Turn off your device’s automatic Wi-Fi connectivity
However, if that doesn’t suit you, perhaps Waldorf’s tips for safe use of public Wi-Fi will. The simplest one: turn off your device’s automatic Wi-Fi connectivity when it’s not actively in use. This way, you will avoid joining sketchy public networks without your knowledge.
Verify any networks you use
Once you do join a network, verify it. Do not just connect to the one called “Hyatt Shanghai 123” because you’re in the Hyatt and it’s unlocked and available. Ask your hotel concierge to confirm the name and password before taking any action.
Avoid credit card transactions on a public network
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In terms of active browsing, you should avoid making any sort of transaction that involves credit card information over a public network. However, if you need to check your statements or make a reservation on the go, either use the bank’s mobile app (most have them, these days), or simply type the site’s address directly into your browser. In fact, for any well-known site where a login is required, skip the search engines. For many transactional webpages, you’ll know that you’re on at a properly encrypted website if the browser begins with https, rather than the standard http.
Avoid public Wi-Fi when you can
Ultimately, nothing will keep you safer than avoiding public Wi-Fi altogether. But with expensive data-roaming fees and the need for constant connectivity, that might be unrealistic. Being smart about how you connect, however, is not.
“I tell my wife and kids that Wi-Fi safety is just like personal safety,” says Waldorf. “You need to be aware of your surroundings, and stay vigilant.”
По-рано тази седмица ви помолихме да споделите любимите си трикове за записване на безплатен Wi-Fi по време на път. Сега сме отново да споделяме богатството; прочетете, за да видите как вашите колеги читатели остават свързани по време на пътуване.
Най-популярната техника е търсенето на ресторанти и кафенета, които предлагат безплатен Wi-Fi интернет. Преди пет години идеята, че всяко друго предприятие в летището или надолу по оживена улица ще предлага безплатен безжичен интернет, ще бъде мечта. Повечето читатели са имали малък проблем при записването на безплатни Wi-Fi от тези заведения. Давид пише:
In addition to the aforementioned McDonalds, I would add Dennys, Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, Panera Bread, and of course lobbies of Hotels w/ free Wi-Fi.
Hisa сподели малка статия, която много хора може да не знаят:
I have a Sprint phone, and when all else fails, I just call to activate the hotspot, use it for as long as necessary, and then call to deactivate it. Sprint is great in that respect because I only pay for the meager amount I use, not the whole $29.99 package.
When free Wi-Fi is near, I snag it. My favorite hot spots are cafes, book stores, hotel lobbies, and fast food joints where I seem to end up anyway when I travel! Also, the convention centers I attend usually have a Wi-Fi option, and it is usually free. I don’t bother “looking” for Wi-Fi, I just let my iPad or my droid phone search for it, and when they find it, I enjoy it ^^
Нямахме представа, че Спринт ви позволява да активирате функционалността на hotspot на база необходимост за използване. Те със сигурност не го публикуват. Може би други читатели могат да звънят с информация за своите превозвачи?
Джеф предлага два трика, както от различна етична, така и от юридическа нагласа:
A lot paid wireless systems right don’t check for mac address spoofing. These solutions are moderately evil and you should proceed with caution.
In Europe last summer I ran into a few interesting situations. 1. The airport I was at offered 15 minutes of internet for free. So if I changed my mac address every 15 minutes I could continue to use the internet as long as I needed. 2. Sometimes if your mac address just happens to be the same as someone who is legitimately connected to the network or you wait until they have left the network. The router will think that you are the person who paid for it. There is some pretty simple software you can get to scan a network then change your mac address to that of someone on the network allowing you to connect for free.
Докато първият е доста умен, бихме се отклонили от втория просто поради потенциалните проблеми, които биха могли да причинят на легитимен клиент (бихте били истински глупак, ако сте накарали реалния клиент да получи сигнал за прекомерно използване / двойно влизане заради вашите MAC spoofing shenanigans).
За повече начин да се свържете от пътя, натиснете тук цялата коментара.
How To Find Free WiFi While Travelling
If you want to stay connected with friends and family while travelling abroad, get some work done on the road, or research the best place to eat in a new city, but arenвЂ™t so keen on paying astronomical roaming data costs or forking out for expensive internet, then donвЂ™t fear! Here are some simple tips on how to easily access free WiFi on your travels.
1. Choose your hotel wisely
It might seem a bit obvious, but if you plan to use WiFi while abroad, make sure you choose a hotel that offers free WiFi. Plenty of hotels offer it for a premium or donвЂ™t have it at all, so when youвЂ™re researching accommodation for your trip, double check that they offer WiFi free of charge. Many booking sites will state whether a hotel has free WiFi or not, and if youвЂ™re not sure, just contact the hotel and ask before you make your booking.
2. Tether your phone
If youвЂ™re travelling domestically and need to use the internet on your laptop, accessing WiFi or an available network can sometimes be a pain, especially if itвЂ™s urgent. But did you know that you can simply tether your phone and use it as an internet hotspot? If your mobile plan has generous data and you need to get online, simply turn on the hotspot feature of your smartphone, type in the password supplied by your phone and voilГЎ, youвЂ™re connected!
If you have plenty of data on your phone, you can use your smartphone as a hotspot to connect your laptop to the internet
If youвЂ™re travelling overseas, we donвЂ™t recommend this without an international sim (unless you want to rack up an enormous bill!) or if your current plan has some limited data. If youвЂ™re visiting family or friends overseas, another option is asking if you can use their mobile phone as a hotspot.
3. Venture into big chain restaurants
Yes, you probably didnвЂ™t go on holiday just to end up in a Starbucks or McDonalds, but these big global chain restaurants often have free (and usually reliable) WiFi, especially in the US . It might mean you need to purchase an item off the menu (even if itвЂ™s just to be polite), but thereвЂ™s usually something fairly cheap that will suffice so you can use their network. Smaller, local chain stores sometimes offer free WiFi too, so do a bit of research before you go to see which chain stores вЂ“ especially big coffee chains вЂ“ are in the city youвЂ™re visiting.
4. Perch yourself near big chain restaurants
If you really, really donвЂ™t want to step foot inside a McDonalds, then you can try finding a park bench or the like outside and try to connect to their WiFi from there. ItвЂ™s a bit sneaky, but hey, weвЂ™re not opposed to beating the system!
Big chain stores like McDonaldвЂ™s often have free WiFi
5. Download a WiFi finder app before you leave
WeFi is your new best friend if youвЂ™re seeking free WiFi abroad. ItвЂ™s an app that lets you find just that вЂ“ free WiFi; simply type in your location and the map populates with free WiFi locations.
OpenSignal and WiFi Finder are two other global smartphone apps that let you seek out free internet connection, but itвЂ™s also worth trying to find an app that caters specifically to where youвЂ™re travelling to. Have a search on your app store before you leave and download one onto your phone so you have an easy way to find free WiFi on your travels.
6. Use review sites to find places with free WiFi
There are a number of easy ways to find local restaurants that have free WiFi. Sure, thereвЂ™s a simple Google search, but websites like Foursquare and Yelp are also clever places to find which eateries offer free internet connection, thanks to the user reviews on the site. Even better, Foursquare will sometimes have all the relevant WiFi details available too, such as the name of the WiFi connection and the password you need. Users can add to the resource and as a result thereвЂ™s a plethora of information for bars, restaurants, cafГ©s and even train stations. Neat-o!
Many restaurants offer free WiFi for their patrons, and using sites like Foursquare and Yelp can help you discover them
7. Visit the local library
The local library has more than just books! Public spaces like libraries often have free WiFi, and are a great place to get some work done, too.
Some libraries may require you to have a membership, but often you can just ask at the desk if thereвЂ™s a guest connection; our advice is to simply say that youвЂ™re from out of town and thus donвЂ™t have membership, so could you pretty please use the guest network?
Plenty of other public places have free WiFi too; some cities have blanket coverage that you can connect to for free; public parks sometimes offer free internet; and art galleries and other institutions can also be great places to discover free WiFi.
Handy hints: When using free WiFi, itвЂ™s important to be connected to a secure network to ensure you keep your personal details safe. Look for websites that begin with https:\\ rather than https:\\ вЂ“ the вЂsвЂ™ denotes a secure network. If thereвЂ™s no вЂsвЂ™, the connection isnвЂ™t secure, so think twice before you pay for those concert tickets with your credit card, or log into your email.
ItвЂ™s also important to read the terms and conditions of whatever WiFi youвЂ™re connecting to, and avoid connections that require a lot of personal data in order to access the WiFi. If in doubt, donвЂ™t connect.
How do you keep connected while travelling? Let us know in the comments below.
- June 4, 2014
Part of globe-trotting nowadays is flitting from one free Wi-Fi network to the next. From hotel lobby to coffee shop to subway platform to park, each time we join a public network we put our personal information and privacy at risk. Yet few travelers are concerned enough to turn down free Wi-Fi. Rather, many of us hastily give away an email address in exchange for 15 minutes of free airport Internet access.
So how to feed your addiction while also safeguarding your passwords and privacy? If you’re not going to abstain (and who is these days?), here are four rules for staying connected and (reasonably) safe while traveling.
1. MAKE SURE THAT ANY SITE YOU VISIT HAS ‘HTTPS’ IN FRONT OF THE URL. Those five letters indicate that the page is encrypted, which prevents others from seeing what you’re doing. If you’re browsing the web in a Starbucks or any place with an open network and you do not see “https,” it’s possible that someone there with nefarious intentions can see the site you’re visiting and the exact pages you request on that site.
“They can see that you’re connecting to Amazon and that you’re looking for remedial algebra books,” said Nadia Heninger, an assistant professor of computer and information science at the University of Pennsylvania. Indeed, the only part of an e-commerce site that may be encrypted is the page where you access your account information or enter your credit card number.
Sites like Gmail.com and Yahoo.com use “https” by default, but type your password into a web-based email site that does not use it and a third party could see (and steal) that password. This sort of eavesdropping is easier than you might think. There are a number of tools that allow anyone who downloads them to see all the data that flies back and forth between a browser and a web server, said Jason Hong, an associate professor at the Human Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.
Moreover, anyone can set up a Wi-Fi network for criminal purposes and give it a legitimate-sounding name. Say, for example, you’re in the Paris Métro and you join a free network that looks like an official city initiative. “You have no idea what Wi-Fi network that is,” Professor Heninger said. “It could be set up by a hacker.” And if he or she has malicious intentions, when you go to a popular site like Facebook you may actually be logging into a fake page that allows the hacker to steal your password. “It is surprisingly common,” Professor Heninger said.
But surely, using Wi-Fi at a hotel is safe, right? “That’s only marginally better,” Professor Hong said. On the bright side, he said it’s unlikely that a criminal would bother monitoring the hotel’s traffic for a few passwords because the cost-benefit is simply not there. That person would get a bigger payoff from phishing emails, Professor Hong said, in which the sender masquerades as a known source like your bank or credit card company to get sensitive information like your banking passwords.
Even so, protect your computer by ensuring that your web browsers are up-to-date. Turn on your firewall and turn off file sharing.
2. USE A VIRTUAL PRIVATE NETWORK, OR VPN. If you work for a corporation, chances are you either already have one or have a technology department that can give you one. Using a VPN essentially encrypts all your online traffic, ensuring that no one can eavesdrop. It also routes that activity through whoever owns the VPN (your employer). So if, for example, I’m in a hotel in Japan using my VPN, all of my traffic gets sent to The New York Times’s servers and is then redirected again so it appears as if it is coming from The Times rather than from a hotel room in Japan. To access the VPN, users are typically given a name and a password and often also a constantly changing set of numbers on a fob that must be entered to access the network.
Don’t have a VPN? There’s Tor, software that prevents third parties from seeing your location or the sites you visit. “It’s totally free and fairly easy to use,” said Professor Heninger, who uses Tor. The software can be downloaded at Torproject.org.
3. SIGN UP FOR TWO-STEP VERIFICATION. More and more sites — Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, WordPress — allow users to set up their accounts so that signing in requires two ways of proving who they are. The most common method requires a password you create plus a code that is sent to you — via text message or through a special app — each time you wish to sign in.
For instance, let’s say you logged onto a fake Facebook page and hackers captured your user name and password. If that happened without two-step verification (known on Facebook as “login approvals”), the hackers could access your account when you log off. If, however, you had enabled login approvals, even though your user name and password were captured, the hackers would not be able to log into your account because they wouldn’t receive the requisite code. Now, if you’re someone who uses the same password for everything, this is where you still run into trouble. Here’s why: If your user name and password for Facebook are the same as those for another website that does not have two-step verification, hackers might figure that out and break into your other accounts. Yes, I know, you can’t keep all your passwords straight. That’s why there are password managers like 1Password and LastPass, which can create and store long, unique passwords.
4. BRING ONLY WHAT YOU NEED AND TURN OFF WHAT YOU’RE NOT USING. The latter goes for Wi-Fi and for Bluetooth. “It’s just another way to be compromised,” Professor Heninger said.
And don’t give away your email address or download an app in exchange for free Wi-Fi.
“Think about the recipient of that information,” she said. “You have no idea who set up that Wi-Fi network,” she continued, adding “You might have just downloaded an app that will download all your contacts.”
When it comes to travel booking and organization apps, one security concern is how much of your personal information the app is sharing, and with whom. Professor Hong said that, in general, apps that charge a fee are better because they have a revenue model. Those that do not are more likely to sell your information. He added that whether they are free or not, apps are also a potential security risk because they do not always encrypt your data when communicating to Web servers.
If you’re seriously concerned about security, Professor Heninger suggests creating a special travel email address and password. And she recommends buying a “travel laptop” that you load with only the information you need.
Indeed, Professor Hong said he would worry more about the theft of your computer than your various passwords. He cited an incident in 2000 in which the laptop of the Qualcomm chief executive at the time, Irwin Jacobs, disappeared at a conference in Irvine, Calif. “He turned his back and the laptop was gone,” Professor Hong said.
Average travelers, he continued, should be just as mindful, if not more, of having their smartphone plucked from their hand by a thief on the street.
“Attackers usually go for the easiest thing,” he said. “Don’t ever underestimate the power of snatch and grab.”
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Some Delta passengers are in for an upgraded Wi-Fi experience starting later this week.
On Tuesday, the Atlanta-based carrier announced that the first jet — a new Airbus A321ceo (current engine option) — equipped with Viasat’s Ka-band receiver will enter service on Saturday, May 1. The new service will cost $8 per flight, per device, regardless of the destination.
However, there’s one thing missing from the news release — there’s no mention of Delta’s plan to offer free Wi-Fi for all passengers.
In early 2019, Delta CEO Ed Bastian shared a goal for the airline to offer free, fast Wi-Fi on its flights within a year or two. Of course, the pandemic has since upended the industry, but Tuesday’s update omits any mention of Bastian’s promise.
But Delta says that’s still the plan.
“We are committed to delivering Free Wi-Fi in the future, and this is a significant step on that journey,” Ekrem Dimbiloglu, Delta’s director of brand experience – inflight entertainment a Wi-Fi, said in a statement to TPG.
“Our Free Wi-Fi pilot in spring 2019 gave us valuable insights to better understand the challenges to providing a service that meets our standard – and having the right equipment was a key part of that,” Dimbiloglu continued, saying the carrier is working to ensure its technology could handle the demand needed to provide free Wi-Fi. “Our vision for the future of travel will not come to life overnight. While we’ve had to shift our focus during the pandemic, our journey to offering the best customer experience possible has never stopped.”
It was just last week that Bastian spoke to TPG founder Brian Kelly in a Future of Travel webinar and reiterated that “we need to get Wi-Fi that works, Wi-Fi that is fully capable and Wi-Fi that’s also free.”
Connecting to Viasat means that the internet speeds should be faster than the current Gogo Wi-Fi portal — a key component of Delta’s free inflight internet promise.
Delta’s free Wi-Fi goal wasn’t mentioned in Tuesday’s announcement (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
In January, Delta detailed plans to begin a shift away from Gogo Wi-Fi to instead join forces with rival Viasat, a move that was described as “a significant step” on the journey to free Wi-Fi.
Either way, flyers will likely prefer the Viasat connectivity. For one, it supports inflight streaming. If you can’t find something to watch on the seat-back monitor, you’ll be able to stream your favorite shows on-demand.
Delta will also debut a new internet landing page later this summer, dubbed Delta Portal Platform, with a brand-new user interface that supports a more personalized experience.
You’ll still be able to access free messaging with the new Wi-Fi service, but it remains to be seen if the carrier’s current free internet partnership with T-Mobile will carry over to Viasat — back in January, a Delta spokesperson was unable to confirm whether or not T-Mobile customers will be able to score free Wi-Fi on Viasat-equipped planes.
Tuesday’s news includes an updated rollout schedule for the remainder of the fleet. All new A321ceos, as well as Boeing 737-900s and 757-200s aircraft — a total of 300 jets — are slated to be outfitted with ViaSat by the end of 2021. The carrier promises to have “nearly all of its domestic mainline fleet” complete by the end of 2022.
Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy