Trudeau airport offers free Wi-Fi

Montreal's Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport has started offering free Wi-Fi internet access on its premises, but experts say the unsecured network leaves users vulnerable to hackers.

Unsecured network vulnerable to hackers, say experts

Stephen Schofield tries out the free Wi-Fi at Trudeau airport in Montreal on Tuesday. ((CBC))
Montreal's Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport has started offering free Wi-Fi internet access on its premises.

Aéroports de Montréal, which runs the airport, said that at any given time, more than 1,000 will be able to connect to the internet wirelessly for free from a laptop, smartphone or any other Wi-Fi-enabled device.

The airport previously charged for its Wi-Fi access.

Travellers trying out the new free service say it's a welcome convenience.

Hilary Matthews and her family were stuck at the airport in Montreal all day Tuesday waiting for their flight home to London.

"I think its excellent, especially since I'm here for a long time, and I have to do some work," said Matthews.

Unsecured access a risk

The high-speed AERO Wi-Fi network should be accessible throughout the entire terminal, including public and restricted areas but is not a secure access network.

Aéroports de Montréal's high-speed AERO WI-FI network outlines the risks in a user agreement that appears when visitors log on. ((CBC))
Some experts say that leaves users vulnerable to hackers

"People can intercept that information that's travelling," said Sunny Handa, a McGill University law professor and expert in legal issues surrounding information technology.

"If you're using an open system, one that has no encryption going between your computer and the local Wi-Fi hot spot, you should be concerned about sending anything you don't want anyone to see," he said.

Handa says airports could do a better job informing users about the risk involved.

Trudeau airport outlines the risks in a user agreement on the log-in page for its Wi-Fi, but some travellers say they don't bother reading it.

"If they did [show the risks], I didn't read it," said Stephen Schofield. "Maybe I should know better, but I've decided to just ignore it and move on."

A recent survey of North American airports by internet security firm AirTight Networks suggested less than five per cent of airport Wi-Fi networks were secure networks.

With files from Amanda Pfeffer