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Key Findings Reveal Continuing Pattern of Data Leakage in Core Airport Systems and Rapid Spread of Viral Wi-Fi Networks Globally at Additional 13 Airports
While the results of the new scans reveal the same patterns of wireless vulnerabilities revealed in the previous study, the vulnerabilities in the core systems at airports were found to be more widespread than in the first study.
“While we were somewhat surprised at how widespread the vulnerabilities were now at a total of 26 airports, we still found ourselves astounded at the magnitude of vulnerabilities exposed in the core systems of many of these airports,” said Pravin Bhagwat, CTO of AirTight. “Several airports, such as JFK International in New York and Washington’s Dulles International, appear to be using WEP based baggage tracking systems which can be easily hacked. When you consider the chaos caused recently by a glitch in the baggage handling system at Terminal 5 at Heathrow in London, you can just imagine the mischief that could be caused if someone intentionally broke into those systems in four or five major airports around the world.”
In this continuing series of studies, AirTight has set out to understand the risks to business travelers and their corporate networks of data leakage while those airline passengers are sending sensitive information using unsecured wireless access points while at the airports. The expanded study continues to find troubling results regarding the security posture of private Wi-Fi networks in the airports scanned as well as the rapid spread of viral Wi-Fi networks.
Just as in the first study, AirTight researchers discovered the rapid spread of viral (ad hoc) infections. Users at both Southampton, UK and Dublin, Ireland airports were seen to be infected with viral SSIDs and the most common infection Free Public WiFi was seen at eight of the newly scanned airports. The earlier study discovered that fully ten percent of the laptops detected during the scans were infected with a viral (ad-hoc) Wi-Fi Network, making the users vulnerable to data leakage and identity theft.
“In this time of heightened security concerns, it is surprising that core systems at major airports are still using a broken encryption system such as WEP or open access points,” continued Bhagwat. “While wireless networks provide great efficiencies in enormous facilities such as an airport, the data that is being transmitted can be so sensitive that all methods available to protect it must be undertaken. It is time for all of these enterprises and government agencies to recognize the risks and implement best practices.”
How the study was conducted
The scans were typically collected at gate or airport lounge areas.
If you would like more information on the AirTight Airport Studies, please contact Della Lowe at 650-934-8191 (office) or 650-868-5829 (mobile).
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