Gogo Inflight Internet is intentionally issuing fake SSL certificates

Recent reports have confirmed that Gogo Inflight Internet have been intentionally issuing fake SSL certificates effectively performing man-in-the-middle attacks on its own users.

The security compromise was detected by a Google Chrome security engineer named Adrienne Porter Felt who discovered this during a flight she took while using the inflight service provided by Gogo Inflight Internet. She noticed this while connecting to Google sites and looking at the issuer of the SSL certificate. The SSL certificate was being issued by Gogo and not Google.

This serious man-in-the-middle attack is likely to have effected all user sessions that Gogo Inflight Internet provide service for including Aeromexico, American Airlines, Air Canada, Japan Airlines and Virgin Atlantic, possibly many others.

It was also revealed through the FCC that Gogo has partnered with government officials to produce “capabilities to accommodate law enforcement interests” that go beyond those outlined under federal law. Working closely with law enforcement by directly injecting spyware into their inflight service.

It is now known that Gogo is now intentionally attacking its user’s browsing sessions directly to remove any line of defense that a user may have. This makes it suspect that this is not being done for any legitimate reason.

Based on these facts Gogo is wittingly cooperating with governments and law enforcement groups, including undisclosed “third parties” heavily it mining its customer’s data

Gogo also offers in-flight texting and voice mail, and there is a high probability that Gogo is miss-handling the privacy and security elements of those as well.

If you have used Gogo service at all, it is highly probable that all of your communications, including those over SSL/TLS, have been compromised and you immediately reset your passwords. If you must use Gogo’s service in the future, do so through the use of Tor and/or through a secure VPN.

SSL/TLS Explanation:

SSL/TLS is a protocol that exists to ensure there exists an avenue for secure communication over the Internet. Through the use of cryptography and certificate validation The use of SSL certificates make man-in-the-middle attacks (where a third party would be able monitor your internet traffic) difficult to carry out. Secured transmissions for sensitive data like credit card numbers and user account passwords becomes significantly safer.

A man-in-the-middle attack would require the attacker to attack and emulate the SSL certificate before being able to snoop on a user’s traffic.


  1. The intercepting of SSL is common practice now a days for SSL/HTTPS content filtering. In companies we use a internal CA and generate intermediate CA certs that has signing rights. Install the CA Root on all the machines, and now the web filter (Barracuda, BlueCoat, etc, etc) can now terminate the SSL session with the user, open a new SSL session to the server and scan all data that passes through it.

    Based on the limited view I can see of the cert in your post, it does look like the gateway/captive portal or other security device was performing a similar tactic and using a self signed cert which most appliance generate themselves, which they use for their HTTPS sessions for administration – etc. This one might have been misconfigured most likely or not changed from the default.

    All browsers WILL generate this as an ERROR, for about the past 2-3 years, however everyone just clicks ACCEPT or IGNORE when they get these cert warnings….

    Hence why I use VPN services and proxys to hide traffic on any open WiFi Network.

  2. A man in the middle attack would require the certificate to be trusted. Unless there is a compromised CA or a CA was inserted into the users computer w/o there knowledge, this seems unlikely. I personally don’t go to major corporate or government websites that say untrusted CA. You can’t expect a Ma and Pa website to pay $250 a year for a verisign certificate so those, I ignore (I don’t post PII to it). In order for an attack to be successful, the CA would have to be compromised or the user would have to ignore the certificate.


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