Archive for August, 2013

“Did you know…Deloitte and Touche’s new frequent flier study may be a bit skewed?”

(Chicago Tribune)

chicago tribuneTravel columnist, Ed Perkins, summarizes findings from a recent frequent flier study presented by business consultancy, Deloitte and Touche.  Perkins questions the objective of the study as well as its conclusions, which he says, “seem pretty skewed from reality.”

Read the full article here:–tms–travelpkctnxf-a20130827-20130827,0,2569186.column

“Did you know…Scoot Airlines Adds Kids-Free Zone?”

(ABC News via Good Morning America)

baby on plane

Photo: (cc)Andrew Morrell Photography via Flickr

Singaporean budget carrier, Scoot Airlines, joins Malaysian Airlines and AirAsian in offering on-board kids-free zones.

According to an ABC News report, for a $14 upgrade, Scoot passengers can sit within the “ScootinSilence” area, a 41-seat cabin prohibiting anyone under the age of 12 under. “The child-free zone advertises itself under the auspice of ensured peace and quiet. It also offers additional legroom via Super or S-T-R-E-T-C-H seats, “offering 35″ pitch – “4 more inches than the standard economy seat,” according to the carrier’s website.”

Read the full story here:

One-on-One with Kent Lawson, Founder & CEO of Private Communications Corporation and PRIVATE WiFi Software

In this month’s One-on-One blog, ExpertFlyer talks with Kent Lawson, Founder & CEO of Private Communications Corporation, a security technology company that protects personal data and information online. PRIVATE WiFi, the company’s flagship software product, encrypts all computer data across unencrypted WiFi networks, ensuring online privacy for those without access to virtual private networks (VPNs).

Kent talks about the silent security threats lurking at the more than 12 million unencrypted WiFi networks worldwide, including airports, hotels, coffee shops, public parks, etc., where public WiFi is available to travelers.  Kent is donating a one-year free subscription to Private WiFi as part of ExpertFlyer’s August Facebook Giveaway Sweepstakes.  Enter here before August 30th.

kent lawson, ceo, private wifiWiFi signals are just radio waves… So the guy sitting a few tables away in a coffee shop or in another hotel room down the hall or a few rows away in an airplane can access everything you send or receive.”

— Kent Lawson, Founder & CEO, Private Communications

You founded your company and flagship encryption software, Private WiFi, in 2010. Talk about the genesis of this product and why you developed it?

In the spring of 2010, there was an article in the Wall Street Journal on the dangers of public WiFi hotspots in hotels, airports, coffeeshops, public parks, etc.  When it came to the end of the article, instead of saying what you could do to protect yourself, the article just ended – saying, more or less, “good luck.”

I had been retired for 12 years from my previous software company at that point. I knew there had to be a better answer and I knew that there was going to be a huge demand for online protection since virtually everyone would be using WiFi hotspots.  I looked around at the potential competition and felt that no one was doing it seriously.  So, I un-retired myself (the same year I got my Medicare card!) and started PRIVATE WiFi.

How vulnerable is the “regular Joe” traveler when it comes to getting personal information hacked or having one’s identity stolen?

Very.  Actually, the more that I looked into the issue, the more I became convinced how important it was.

computer hackers

WiFi signals are just radio waves.  So all you need is a receiver tuned to the right frequency to intercept all communications to and from everyone in a WiFi hotspot.  So the guy sitting a few tables away in a coffee shop or in another hotel room down the hall or a few rows away in an airplane can access everything you send or receive.

It’s called “sniffing” and it is the ultimate stealthy crime, because there is no way to know it is happening until it is too late.  But here are some known instances:

According to a FOIA request I filed with the Federal Trade Commission, an airline passenger complained that he used his credit card to make a purchase online.  Two days later, there were thousands of dollars of unauthorized charges on his card.

A woman told me she’d accessed her PayPal account with her smartphone.  Funds were withdrawn by a hacker within 10 minutes.

A man wrote me that his email account was hacked soon after accessing it on Amtrak.

As one security consultant said to me:  “We all know this is going on.”  Continue reading →

Keeping your identity safe while traveling: Part 2

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

pickpocketsIn Part 1 of our Hot Topic series, Detective Kevin Coffey of, mapped out valuable tips for protecting your identity on the road, and specifically what you need to do before you leave for your trip.  In Part 2, Kevin covers everything you need to know after you arrive at your destination. Check out our Editor’s Note at the end of the article for a special offer and information to maximize your online security.

Cautionary Tips for After you Arrive…

  • Hotel credit card scam

The ID thief typically calls a slumbering guest and indicates he’s a hotel employee and the hotel computer system has crashed and says that in order to complete the nightly hotel audit, you (the hotel guest) must have your credit card number.

  • Use your hotel safe

You might not give a second thought to how many hotel employees have access to your room, even ones that shouldn’t. Keep your important documents, cash, extra credit cards and other sensitive items in your hotel safe while you’re out. Then you won’t have to give a second thought to whether they are secure. Make it a priority to drop off things you don’t need in the safe as soon you enter the room, every time you enter the room. If you room does not have an in room safe, the hotel may provide secure storage at the front desk, or you can take a portable safe with you and lock it to a secure fixture in your room. Portable safes can be used to secure larger laptops and important papers if needed.    

  • Be Smart About Your Smartphone

Know that smartphones are one of the most wanted items by street thieves today – and is a growing trend internationally as well.  To a thief, a smartphone can provide a treasure trove of personal and many times financial information about you – depending how linked up you are digitally.  Keep in mind that smartphones are packed with our close friends, Facebook contacts, photos, location data, and tweets as well as access to the password for your personal banking and credit cards, email accounts, shopping and social networking tools. Smartphone passwords are very easy to crack by anyone with a little digital knowledge.  At the minimum, you should always use the pin or password feature of their smartphone to keep the front door of the phone safe – while it’s not foolproof, it’s a start to help protect your identity in case the phone is lost or stolen. There are several smartphone software programs that can help provide additional safeguards of your valuable information.

Additionally, be careful of free apps you download on your smart phone.  Google recently removed 21 free popular apps from the Android market place because they secretly stole available data on users’ smart phones and allowed malware to be downloaded onto your phone which can cause your information to be compromised. Continue reading →

“Did you know…UPS Cargo Plane Crashes in Alabama, Kills 2?”

(ABC News)

UPS Cargo Plane Crash, Birmingham

In a live interview, Robert Sumwalt, board member of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), offers an update on the launch of a NTSB “Go-Team,” which has been expedited to Birmingham, Alabama to investigate this morning’s crash of a UPS cargo plane and the death of two people.   Sumwalt advised that the agency’s website, and Twitter account, @NTSB, will post up-to-the-minute information on the crash.

Read the full story and view video here: