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A few tips on how to use Wi-Fi safely in the cabin

Here are our top tips to help you stay safe while browsing the sky.

Whether for work or pleasure, from time to time there is a need to connect to Wi-Fi in an airplane. But is it safe? And if there is no alternative, what can you do to protect your data?

The Internet has become the lifeblood of many households since the late 1990s. However, until 2008 commercial airlines did not implement Wi-Fi at all. But time does not stand still, and today many carriers offer Internet connection service on board. Even on short-haul flights.

How does Wi-Fi work on an airplane?

Just like on the ground, airplanes connect to Wi-Fi using antennas. They receive a signal from nearby transmitters. The information is then sent to the onboard router, which distributes the Wi-Fi signal throughout the aircraft.

So there are two main ways.

Ground. Works similarly to mobile data. The aircraft antenna receives signals from cell towers located on the ground.

Satellite. This technology, as a rule, is most common when flying over large bodies of water, where there are no conventional towers – over the seas and oceans. Using a network of space satellites, the aircraft’s antenna picks up the signal coming from them, usually from the nearest one.

As with any public Wi-Fi, there is a risk to those who surf the Internet on an airplane. Cybercriminals take advantage of weak security since most public Wi-Fi networks are not secure.

How can I improve security when using Wi-Fi on an airplane?

Regardless of the flight range, the inability to connect to the Internet sometimes causes discomfort and irritation. Especially for those who are used to being online for 6 hours a day.

Here are some tips to help you stay safe in the sky.

  • Use only secure sites. HTTPS sites have an extra layer of security that makes them harder to hack. Conversely, avoid using HTTP sites: they are insecure and provide an easy entry point for hackers.
  • Use a VPN. Installing a VPN helps encrypt the data sent between your device and the server. This virtually impenetrable level of protection allows you to surf safely at altitude.
  • Select the Public Network option. Before connecting to your airline’s Wi-Fi, make sure you define it as a “public network”. Selecting this option will disable several file-sharing features and reduce the chance of data being compromised. Setting up a public network can also hide your device from other computers and phones.
  • Firewall update. If you plan to use public Wi-Fi at an airport or plane, make sure your firewalls are up to date. Having reliable anti-spyware and anti-virus software will help you have a stress-free vacation.

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