Wireless security has been a fairly large security topic for a long time now, and it is one that should be taken very seriously. From a simple web search you will find information about how insecure WEP is, and that you should be using WPA/WPA2. But if your someone like me who often finds access points that are insecure, you may be wondering what type of chances are you taking by connecting to it?
Your best choice for security here is to simply not use this connection, find a better secure method of internet access. But we all know most people want the fast and easy way to get online and they’re willing to take the risk. Although its not the best option, if your going to connect to it just be smart and know what your doing. Eavesdropping isn’t to difficult on an insecure Wi-Fi connection. Anyone with a little computer knowledge could download some free software that captures your data being transmitted. Any packet sniffers such as the ones here could do the trick, but some are specifically programmed to search for login credentials of insecure websites. Now some people might think “What are the chances of this happening to me on this Wi-Fi network I just found.” Probably not extremely high, but the small chance that it will should make you be cautious. It’s probably not worth giving someone your passwords just because you didn’t want to be careful and take the time to be secure.
Theres a few simple things to check for to help keep yourself safe. When browsing don’t enter any login information or personal information on websites if they are not secure. Check to make sure your on an HTTPS connection before you log in. You may find a website that you use that doesn’t offer HTTPS, and think “it doesn’t matter if someone finds out my information to access this site so ill just do it anyway.” Well before you do that also consider did you use that same login information on any other websites? Are you someone who uses the same username and password to login on a gaming website as your Paypal account? If your not sure about something or a website your using just don’t do anything unless your sure its encrypted. Also if your using email clients you may want to make sure that is encrypted with SSL for both in going and outgoing email as well. If you have it configured without encryption, that might be something to consider before you use it on an insecure network.
The best option is to connect through a VPN (Virtual Private Network) which you can read more about here Simply put everything through the VPN will be encrypted which will allow you to browse more securely while connected through this insecure Wi-Fi connection by blocking out local eavesdroppers . The Wi-Fi network will still be insecure, but the packets you will be sending will be encrypted. VPN options are available for many devices, not just desktops and laptops. But if you can’t use a VPN just be smart and know what your sending out that won’t be encrypted.
Wireless security is a very complex topic, and with many people not fully educated on how to setup a access point securely it isn’t to uncommon to find one insecure or simply using WEP. I think most people would agree with me that WEP would also be classified as insecure. There are so many devices people bring with them now days that can connect to Wi-Fi such as smart phones, laptops, tablets, and even mp3 players. Because of this its important you understand the possible security risks of the Wi-Fi network you may connect to.