MSP Made a few Changes

22 Sep 2013

The international departures gates have seen a few changes at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. Since I've last passed through a year ago, they have installed a wide array of small booths, each with their own WI-FI-enabled iPad. I can check my email, browse the web, even update my blog via Github.

The question is: is this a good or a bad thing?

The kiosks suffer all the usual problems with public terminals: security and privacy. Security, it seems is pretty weak (in fact it has me a bit worried). I logged into my mail, only to find myself logged into the previous users mail. Only by clicking around to various other Google products (their new iOS web interface made it rather infuriatingly difficult to find the 'sign out' button) did it seem that my on log in took effect.

Privacy is another concern. These kiosk iPads don't have the usual set of of set of privacy feature - the major one being a session reset. I've found in the past that many kiosks providing basic Internet access reset their session (i.e. history cookies, etc) either after a fixed amount of time, a lack of activity, or explicit user 'end session' actions. I'm not seeing this as an option at all on this device. The previously mentioned security hole above leads me to think it's missing all together.

Granted, I'd usually have my own phone, but I chose not to bring it - I'm using Sprint and their international coverage is poor at best, so it was just one more thing to use. Yet I still chose the free Internet option versus paying for high fees. It seems that even being security conscious is still easily defeated by being cheap...

On the plus side, they provide power, both USB and three-prong, at ever booth. After spending years trying to track down the two plugs in the gate area, this is a welcome change.