Study of Worldwide Airports Reveals Wireless Security Risks for Travelers and Airport Operations

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on March 18, 2008

Press release: “…AirTight® Networks, the global leader for wireless intrusion prevention systems…issued the findings from its study to assess information security risk exposure of laptop users at fourteen airports in the United States, Canada and Asia. The company set out to understand the risks to business travelers and their corporate networks of data leakage while those airline passengers are sending sensitive information using unsecured wireless access points while at the airports. It found surprising results, however, regarding the security posture of private Wi-Fi networks in these airports as well as the rapid spread of viral Wi-Fi networks.

One of the most surprising findings of this initial study was that some ticketing systems, baggage systems, shops and restaurants were using open or poorly secured wireless networks. Of the Wi-Fi networks detected by AirTight researchers, 77 percent were non-hotspot (i.e. private) networks and of those, 80 percent were unsecured or using legacy WEP encryption, a fatally flawed protocol. Based on detailed analysis of these access points, there is a high probability that some of these networks are used for critical airport logistics and operations. The consequences of this lack of security could result in disruption of baggage or passenger ticketing systems.”

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