Researcher points to Wi-fi snooping dangers at major Japanese airports
Kyodo in Tokyo
Users of free wireless internet connections at Japan's Narita, Kansai and Kobe airports are vulnerable to electronic eavesdropping of their email and web browsing, a study by an information specialist showed yesterday.
Such risks can be prevented by encrypting Wi-fi connections, but the three airports refrain from doing so in favour of user convenience.
Free Wi-fi connections are available at about 900,000 locations nationwide, including public facilities and convenience stores, but many of them are not encrypted, according to Masakatsu Morii, a professor at a graduate school of engineering at Kobe University.
"Users should understand there are risks and avoid exchanges of important information like credit card numbers," said Morii.
In a test at Kansai International Airport in Osaka, Morii sent emails and browsed the web on a PC which he monitored using a second computer running network analysis software. He was able to view the title, contents and delivery address of emails sent from the other computer.
Morii said airports and other public facilities with a large number of visitors choose not to encrypt free Wi-fi connections in order to avoid users having to enter passwords.