In today’s busy world, it is difficult to go anywhere without needing Internet access of some sort. Everyone is always checking their email or social media on their phones while shopping, eating, and, sadly, even while driving. One popular place to spend time on the Internet is at the airport. If you have a lengthy layover, using the time to surf the Internet or complete work that requires web connectivity can be a good use of that extra time. For that reason, many airports offer WiFi so you don’t have to use up all of your cell phone data and so you have a way to connect your laptop to the Internet. 

Airport WiFi is suited more for social networking than for paying bills.

Even though you are in an airport that makes security a priority, their WiFi is still a public network. Because it is a public network, it is best to always err on the side of caution when it comes to transmitting personal information, such as your social security number or credit card numbers, while connected to airport WiFi because online hackers could be watching.

The reason you shouldn’t handle financial transactions or type out your social security number while on airport WiFi goes beyond virtual dangers – you also have to think about the people around you. It is far too easy for someone beside you – or even behind you – to eavesdrop on your computer activity.

You may think there is no way someone could steal your information from simply watching you type, but it is done more often than you think. And, while it is not ideal, if someone were to get your social networking log-in information from watching you type, it’s far better than them stealing your banking or credit card information.

Beware the fake WiFi networks.

Unfortunately, information and identity thieves are smart. Since anyone can purchase a WiFi hot spot through a cell phone carrier, that means anyone can create a public WiFi network in airports, restaurants – pretty much anywhere – all just to steal your information. 

What makes it worse is that the thieves always name their WiFi networks with names that look official, but there is usually a slight difference between the fake network and the real one. Most people never realize they aren’t connected to the official WiFi network – that’s how good the thieves are.

When connecting to airport WiFi, you need to pay close attention to the network names. Also, be sure to ask your gate agent to verify which WiFi network the airport uses for public access.

As long as you take practice caution while online and verify the network with an airport official, using an international airport’s WiFi connection can be a wonderful way to pass the time between flights.