Those questions still need answering, but I believe there is a pretty simple answer to the question of what can be done about it, utilizing limited technological implementation or spending. Security awareness programs at airports and transit centers are prevalent in signage, PA announcements, handouts, instructions by TSA employees etc. … There is no reason (other than a lack of awareness) that similar if not exactly the same media could be used to provide the travelling public with basic tips on how not to be a victim of identity theft, or other cyber-crime while travelling.
- Informational bulletins describing typical rouses, including the “Free Public WI-FI” threat
- Placards that display exactly which WI-FI networks are in use throughout the facility
- Email blurbs that could be included within emails confirming travel reservations
- Warnings that could be easily printed on the back of ticket stubs or boarding passes.
If you are concerned that you have fallen prey to the “Free Public WI-FI” rouse, or other similar malicious bots that use ad hoc networks to propagate, it is relatively easy to change the advanced settings on your wireless manager to refuse all ad hoc connections automatically. Another sensible practice is to use the mechanical WI-FI on/off switch to disable your WI-FI adapter when you are not using it, and regularly purge your preferred network list. There is no reason to have anything other than the networks you regularly connect to at home, work or other regular trusted connection point on that list.
For more details on changing your wireless settings you can check out this very detailed article on TechRepublic: http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/wireless/how-to-prevent-automatic-association-with-ad-hoc-networks/210
Stay safe, and well-connected in your travels.
Bradford Baker CPP, PSP is a security project manager at TRC, a national engineering consulting and construction management firm serving the energy, environmental and infrastructure markets.