MCP Insights

As Air Travel Increases, So Must Cybersecurity Vigilance

Posted on February 13, 2024 by Jason Franks

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) declared an end to the COVID-19 pandemic last May. The best evidence that the pandemic truly is over may be the continuing surge in air travel.

It was projected that the total number of air travelers globally would reach 8.6 billion, which is 94 percent of pre-pandemic levels, and increase to 9.4 billion in 2024, which would be about 2 percent higher than before COVID-19 arrived in 2019.

This is great news, but it comes with a caveat, which is that air travelers are especially vulnerable to attacks by cyber criminals and other nefarious sorts. The following are tips that will keep travelers, and the organizations that employ them, safer.

  • Some might consider password protection to be inconvenient, but it is essential for every device you have, including laptops and tablets. Further, consider upgrading your device to a recent version that employs facial recognition or other advanced security tools, which come in very handy when devices are lost or stolen.
  • Before you leave for the airport — or the train station, for that matter — ensure that your devices are using the latest version of the operating system software, which will help protect against any known vulnerabilities. It is further advised that software updates be applied as soon as they’re available, because cyberattack strategies and tactics continually evolve.
  • Consider turning off location services, which can expose your location even if all you’re doing is taking an image and sharing it online. Knowing that you’re not home, and likely won’t be for an extended period, is valuable information for burglars and porch thieves to have.
  • Everyone, sooner or later, discovers that their battery capacity has dwindled to dangerously low levels. But everyone should be careful about using USB charging ports in public places such as airport terminals and hotel lobbies.
    • These ports can be tampered with and infected with malware that could provide others access to your smartphone phone. This is a technique called “Juice Jacking.” Once inside, cyberattackers can lock your device to initiate a ransomware attack, or steal sensitive personal data, including passwords.
    • Protect yourself by using a charging-only cable that does not allow data transfer, or leverage a USB data-transmission blocker, plugs into the public USB charging port and then the charging cord plugs into it.
  • Think twice before connecting to public Wi-Fi networks — you might be connecting to a compromised network that is stealing your information. If you are going to use a public Wi-Fi network:
    • DO NOT access any key accounts, such as those at financial institutions or other locations where sensitive data may be kept.
    • If the network requires you to create a password to join the network, create a UNIQUE password that is different from all other passwords that you are using.
    • If you connect to a public wi-fi, turn off the auto-connect feature on your device and disconnect from the network when done. If you use the public network for any considerable amount of time, periodically disconnect and reconnect.
    • If you want to test a public Wi-Fi that is supposedly secure, and which has an already established password, attempt to log onto the network using an incorrect password. If you’re still allowed to join, then the network is either not secure or is compromised.

With air travel returning to pre-COVID levels, it is imperative that every public-sector organization reviews and updates its cybersecurity polices concerning personnel travel. Indeed, it always is a great idea to review and update the cybersecurity strategic plan. We can help your organization do all of that and would love the opportunity to do so — please reach out.

Jason Franks is an MCP cybersecurity specialist. Email him at

Topics: Cybersecurity

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