VPN supplier, NordVPN, has issued a warning about the potential for security breaches when using in-flight Wi-Fi.

While the dangers associated with public Wi-Fi might be well known, the security issues of in-flight Internet connection are still somewhat obscure, it says. And, with more than 52 airlines worldwide currently offering in-flight Internet, more passengers face possible security breaches when using these services. In-flight Internet is currently dominated by the provider, Gogo, while its two main competitors, ViaSat and GEE, use satellites exclusively for airlines such as JetBlue and Southwest. Connecting to any of these provides presents a risk of opening up your private data to cybercriminals.

Because people are crammed into a small space for many hours while flying, there is plenty of time and opportunity for hackers to access any data that is being transmitted over open networks. Passengers who do online banking, shopping or business emailing are especially vulnerable to identity and data theft. Photographers run the additional risk of copyright theft.

Passengers can guard against some of the potential risks by changing the Wi-Fi network designation to Public, which makes the computer ‘invisible’ to other computers. Do not use the Home network setting as it opens access to anyone connected to the same network which, on a plane, is likely to be strangers. The Work network should be used for a private group at work. Travellers should also make sure they are connecting to the Wi-Fi network offered on the flight, and not a look-alike network with a similar-sounding name that might be spoofed. If you find two Wi-Fi networks operating. check with the cabin staff to find out which one is ‘official’.

An additional protection is to connect via a professional VPN (Virtual Private Network) service that encrypts all the traffic flow between the Internet and a device and helps hide an IP address. VPNs are becoming essential in the world of tightening online security. Soon using a VPN will be as common as going online. While some in-flight networks cut back on security and block VPNs, in most cases users have no obstacles for using them. Besides using a VPN, travelers should use antivirus, firewall and anti-spyware and automatically update their software. To find out more, visit www.nordvpn.com