The Sequester, Air Travel & WiFi Safety

Sequestration Day was last Friday.  Though we’re told it’ll be a while before we begin to feel the impact of budget cuts on a broad scale, air travel may already be feeling the pinch.  CNN says Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told reporters that some airports, like Chicago and Los Angeles, had lines that were twice as long as usual over the weekend due to budget cuts.  Other news reports suggest that we may experience flight delays this summer.

Our mantra during the peak holiday travel season – Get There Early and Expect to Wait – might come in handy in the months ahead.  And, because so many of us are living the Borderless Lifestyle, carrying a smartphone, a tablet, or a PC with us at all times, it’s inevitable that some will choose to while away the time using a public WiFi hotspot connection for some digital diversion.

That’s my segue to remind everyone to be aware of the potential threats to users of open WiFi networks at the airport – or any public place.  Hackers can collect username/password login information, PINs, or other personal information sent from your device.  They’ve also been known to set up free hotspots in public places that look and act legit, but are also collecting your personal info while you use them.

Here are a few links that can help you reduce your vulnerability.  This Travel+Leisure article outlines some precautions to secure your smartphone.  Here are five rules for safe laptop use on public hotspots from PC World.  Those of you who are more tech-savvy will probably appreciate these more technical pieces from InformationWeek and Ars Technica.  Another option you may want to consider would be to forego public hotspots altogether by using a personal mobile (MiFi) hotspot, like the Verizon Jetpack, which securely connects directly to the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network.

Travel safe.  Let’s be careful out there.