By Praveen Kannan and Anna Strokolyst The Hotspot Shield team believes the internet should be open and secure …
Ready to take off? Whether you are a seasoned jetsetter or you’re just getting ready to take a vacation, you want your entire trip to be enjoyable, from the time you arrive at the airport to when you walk back through your home’s front door. In-flight WiFi can make the hours you spend getting to and from your destination more productive and more enjoyable.
However, in-flight public WiFi poses a few problems: it is expensive and often slow. It can even pose a security risk.
What are some of the most popular and user-friendly in-flight WiFi services, and how can you protect yourself while you use them?
Gogo Gets the Top Spot
Gogo is one of the top in-flight Internet service providers (ISPs). However, in 2013, only about seven percent of passengers used it. This is partly because of Gogo’s cost; frugal travelers don’t want to spend ten dollars or more just to check their email.
Another problem confronting Gogo is the bandwidth restriction which makes it all but impossible to stream entertainment from sites like Netflix.
Most airlines that offer Gogo Internet charge similar rates, charging from a couple of dollars for half an hour to $40 or $50 if you want to buy a month-long pass. If you’re a frequent flier, the pass might be worth the money, but even if you spend thirty hours or more every month on a plane, it still seems like a raw deal.
Evolving technology might soon change in-flight Wi-Fi. The same principles that make mobile data connections possible may soon make flying a more enjoyable, more connected experience.
Other In-flight ISPs
Gogo provides more than two-thirds of in-flight WiFi. However, Southwest Airlines rebels against the Gogo domination by offering Row 44 WiFi to its passengers. Panasonic also wants a piece of the WiFi pie; the company plans to be on board thousands of airplanes within the next decade. As Internet access becomes more readily available to travelers, so will the need for WiFi Security to help traveling passengers protect their privacy.
In-flight WiFi Security Risks
When you enter your credit card information to connect to in-flight WiFi, the transaction is encrypted, meaning it is relatively secure. However, after that, you’re on your own. An article from The Huffington Post reports, “security experts…want travelers to know the WiFi commonly available on commercial airliners isn’t any safer than the unsecured network at your local coffee shop.”
You could be left vulnerable to cyberattacks and hackers who want to gain access to your secure information, such as account numbers and other personal data. That innocuous-looking fellow sitting across the aisle from you could potentially spy on your browsing session.
Follow smart practices. Avoid using sites that require you to type in sensitive information, and be aware of your surroundings. If something seems off, it may be best to abandon your web surfing for the time being.
Use Hotspot Shield to Protect Yourself
Hotspot Shield lets you harness the power of a virtual private network (VPN). It will assign your computer a new IP address, which can fool hackers and hide your browsing activity from prying eyes.
There are two versions of Hotspot Shield: The regular version won’t cost you a dime, but it is ad-supported, so be prepared to see messages from the service’s sponsors. You’ll also receive prompts to upgrade to Hotspot Shield Elite when you access certain websites.
Hotspot Shield Elite does cost a little money, but it is ad-free. It also comes with more than a dozen virtual locations available so you can access geo-restricted content, unlimited bandwidth and a dedicated support team in case you need some help.
You can read a book or listen to music when you’re soaring in the skies, but why not go online too? Protect yourself by using Hotspot Shield. It will make your travels more convenient, enjoyable, and secure.