Wi-Fi is one of the greatest amenities to use while traveling. Whether you’re popping into a cafe while in Europe to connect to Wi-Fi and check in with the world or connecting to your hotel’s Wi-Fi while living a nomadic lifestyle, it definitely comes in clutch. So when we’re on flights, it’s only right to connect to the flight’s Wi-Fi, right? Connecting to the internet while in the air is great for catching up on work or even streaming a movie but it may not be the safest option.
How does Wi-Fi work on planes, anyway?
Most commercial airlines weren’t equipped with Wi-Fi until 2018 or later. Aircraft connect to Wi-Fi through antennas. The antennas gather signals from transmitters nearby and then send the information to a router onboard which spreads Wi-Fi signals on the plane.
The two main operating systems are ground-based and satellite. Ground-based systems allow the plane antenna to be a hotspot and pick up signals from cell towers. Satellite operating systems are the most common when planes fly across large bodies of water. The plane’s antenna catches signals from the nearest satellite.
With both systems, cyber-criminals can take advantage and your information can be breached.
How to be more secure when using a plane’s Wi-Fi
Using an airplane’s Wi-Fi is no different from any other public Wi-Fi. The security is lax when traveling on domestic and international flights. If you must connect to Wi-Fi while on board, there are tips to stay safe.
Install a VPN
Having a VPN is great to encrypt data sent between the server and your device. This allows you to use the internet without worrying about your data being leaked.
Only use secure sites
Going on HTTPS websites ensures that there is an extra layer of security. HTTP sites are easier to hack.
Update your firewalls
When using public Wi-Fi on flights, it’s important to have up-to-date firewalls. Using anti-spyware and antivirus software will help keep your data secure from hackers.
Choose ‘public network’
Make sure that you choose ‘public network’ before connecting to the Wi-Fi on your flight. The public network options turn off file-sharing capabilities, reducing the chances of your data being compromised. Choosing ‘public network’ also hides your device from public viewing.