You just touched down in a new country, and are dying to see who slipped into your DMs. Pulling up your phone, you find FREE LOUNGE WIFI calling your name– sweet connectivity is a tap away. But just because you’re through security doesn’t mean you can let your guard down. Follow these 5 tips to help keep you safe when connecting in one of our favorite lounges.
1. Use a VPN
When you connect to a WiFi network you don’t control, you should use a VPN. A Virtual Private Network, creates an encrypted tunnel between you and the sites you visit. This means that even if someone tricks you into connecting to an evil WiFi network, they won’t be able to see what you do on it.
There are a ton of VPN providers out there, but a few of the most popular are NordVPN, ExpressVPN and Private Internet Access. Use only reputable companies. We recommend ExpressVPN (disclosure: LS makes money on this affiliate link).
2. Delete Old Networks
Connecting automatically to the lounge WiFi in Changi makes you feel like a regular. Having someone trick your phone into thinking you’re in Changi when you’re really in Venice will cause you to regularly get your bank login stolen. Yes, this is the dreaded pineapple attack.
Your phone is never idle. When you disconnect from a network, your phone starts broadcasting the name of every WiFi network it’s ever connected to. That means you walk through every airport announcing to the world that you’ve been in Singapore. When you broadcast a network without a password, or one the attacker knows, you’re in trouble. All they need to do is create a fake network with the same name and password (or no password), to intercept your traffic.
It’s not hard to imagine how this works in a lounge, where everyone knows the network name and password. This is why it’s so important to use a VPN.
3. Keep Software Updated
Security vulnerabilities are the biggest reason for the constant OS and app updates scrolling endlessly on your screen. When one is found and publicized (or worse, sold), the software maker rushes to fix it. As an attacked, if I see that you’re running an old software version, my attack strategy is usually only a search away.
4. Watch for Shoulder Surfers
Sometimes the most obvious security measures are the ones we don’t take. You don’t want someone intercepting your traffic while you check a brokerage account, so why are you letting everyone behind you in the lounge see it?
If you’re doing sensitive business, sit with your back to a wall. I don’t know why I need to include this, but in my experience in lounges, I do.
5. Assume You’ve Been Compromised
The best way to protect yourself is to assume that someone has at least some of your sensitive information. It may be your email address, a password, your passport number, or anything else they can use to steal your identity. Due to the massive data breaches over the last few years, no one can safely assume their information is private.
Because of this, when you’re choosing passwords, choose a unique password for every website. Can’t remember them? Use a password manager.
When services require security questions, choose questions that can’t easily be researched online. Your maiden name and city of birth are not private information. Choose different questions for different services.
When possible use 2-factor authentication. This requires you to enter a code from an authentication app or receive a text message to log into a service. It means that someone grabbing your password from lounge wifi is not enough to let them drain your bank account.