Reporter Says He Was Hacked on a Flight

2 minute read

A columnist for a major national newspaper says his computer was hacked in midair by a fellow passenger on a recent trip.

Steven Petrow, who writes about etiquette for USA Today, says the incident happened on a flight from North Carolina to Dallas. Petrow writes that he “spent much of the flight working, using American Airlines Gogo in-flight Internet connection to send and answer emails.” After the flight, a passenger approached Petrow with seemingly uncanny knowledge of his work:

“Are you interested in the Apple/FBI story?” he responded, ignoring my question.

“Kind of. Why are you asking me that?” I thought he was some kind of creepy mind reader.

Then he dropped the bombshell.

“I hacked your email on the plane and read everything you sent and received. I did it to most people on the flight.” He had verbatim detail of a long email that he repeated back to me essentially word for word.

To be fair, Gogo wireless, which provides in-flight Internet access on carriers from American Airlines to Delta, cautions users against transmitting sensitive data while on its network. But Petrow’s story highlights a grim reality: Most people don’t read the fine print, making them vulnerable to hackers and identity thieves.

[USA Today]

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