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Study Reveals the Most and Least Secure Airport Wifi Networks in the U.S.

Study Reveals the Most and Least Secure Airport Wifi Networks in the U.S.
Jeff Edwards

This week, Cybersecurity firm Coronet released a report detailing the most vulnerable public wifi networks at airports in the U.S. The study, which ranks the 45 busiest airports in the country, finds that, in many cases, passenger convenience and ease-of-use take a back seat to cybersecurity concerns.

On Wednesday, the cybersecurity firm Coronet released a first-of-its-kind study ranking the security vulnerabilities of public wifi networks at the 45 busiest airports around the U.S. The just-released report, Attention All Passengers: Airport Networks Are Putting Your Devices & Cloud Apps at Severe Risk, was compiled by collecting data “from more than 250,000 consumer and corporate endpoints that traveled through America’s 45 busiest airports over the course of five months.” Coronet says it then “analyzed the data consisting of both device vulnerabilities and wifi network risks, which was captured from the company’s threat protection applications.” Finally, researchers assigned a corresponding “Airport Threat Score” which was used to rank the airports from least vulnerable to most vulnerable.

According to the study, the least secure airports include San Diego International Airport (SAN), which had the highest Airport Threat Score among all U.S. airports. Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport (PHX) and Boston Logan Airport (BOS) were also named among the most cyber insecure airports in the country.

“Far too many U.S. airports have sacrificed the security of their wifi networks for consumer convenience,” Coronet’s founder and CISO Dror Liwer said in a statement unveiling the report. “As a result, business travelers in particular put not just their devices, but their company’s entire digital infrastructure at risk every time they connect to wifi that is unencrypted, unsecured or improperly configured. Until such time when airports take responsibility and improve their cybersecurity posture, the accountability is on each individual flyer to be aware of the risks and take the appropriate steps to minimize the danger.”

Although the study found that some of the busiest airports in the country are putting passengers at a high risk of having important data hacked, the report also found that many other U.S. airports are doing a much better job of protecting passengers while online. As with the list of especially vulnerable airport wifi networks, there are a few surprises among the airports with wifi networks that employ especially good cybersecurity measures.

The Coronet report named Chicago-Midway International Airport (MDW) the most cyber secure airport in the U.S. Other major airports among the ten most cyber secure terminals include Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) and Miami International Airport (MIA).

[Photo: Shutterstock]

View Comments (4)

4 Comments

  1. zephyr17

    July 19, 2018 at 4:28 pm

    Whenever I am using a public network, even if secured, if I am doing something other than just browsing the web, I use a VPN. So it doesn’t matter how secure or unsecure the wifi is, I use a secure VPN. All I need is the connection.

  2. Centurion

    July 19, 2018 at 9:43 pm

    There is no secure connection anywhere. Just love your life knowing just that one bit of info

  3. ozflygirl747

    July 20, 2018 at 12:16 am

    I try to avoid public wi-fi at all costs and just use my own phone data with a VPN.

  4. KRSW

    July 20, 2018 at 8:23 pm

    Interesting, they say these airports are insecure, then want to sell you their product at the end of the PR release. Funny how that works.

    By which criteria are they using? Obviously, WiFi AP isolation should be standard, but beyond that there isn’t much else you can do on an open, unsecured WiFi AP. Expecting travelers to use WiFi passwords for an airport-wide WiFi system’s not practical.

    Also, has there ever been a documented incident where someone hijacked an airport WiFi system and got data from it? Most websites these days use SSL, many of us use VPNs on top of that. Even if you managed to get in, the amount of data flowing is pretty heavy these days with NetFlix, etc.

    Someone can always set up a rogue AP.

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