Are password protected WiFi networks secure?


Joined
Feb 3, 2020
Messages
13
Reaction score
6
I know that I should be ultra cautious when using a public wifi from a security perspective. However if I am signing into a network requiring a password, does this actually mean I am more secure? What I mean is that if I for example access my banking on a password required network, could there still be someone else signed into that network as well who could see what I am doing, or does signing in give me an 'exclusive' or 'protected' connection?

Thanks
 
Ad

Advertisements

Ian

Administrator
Joined
Feb 23, 2002
Messages
19,718
Reaction score
1,392
If the wifi network requires a password, it's likely more secure - but not bullet proof (especially if it uses some older Wifi encryption standards). However, it does mean it's harder for someone to be able to snoop on your connection, even more so if you're connecting to SSL protected sites (like banking will be).

You might need to use your judgement when connecting to networks to decide what you're happy to do on it. A secure WPA2 connection in a coffee shop - I'd be happy to browse the web and do general stuff, but I'd avoid banking (I'd just switch to cellular data for that) - and that's probably being very cautious. However, I'd be more cautious in a business hotel or airport, as that's where it may be worth someone trying to snoop on connections.

If the secured wifi connection was somewhere I trusted (i.e. my own home, a friends house, etc...) then I'd be very happy doing banking on that.
 
Joined
Feb 3, 2020
Messages
13
Reaction score
6
Thanks Ian.

So I get the fact that having to sign in with a password means those who don't know the password can't get on to the same network. But if someone does know the password and can therefore join the same network, could they potentially compromise what you are doing?
The question has arisen because my daughter will be at Uni from September (hopefully!) and we were discussing online banking etc. She does that at home and clearly we consider that safe. Her halls will provide wifi which I am sure (hope!) will be a secure network but presumably there will still be potentially loads of other students on the same network at the same time, and so my question is really around whether somebody would be able to see her credentials if they were attached to the same network.
 
Ad

Advertisements

Ian

Administrator
Joined
Feb 23, 2002
Messages
19,718
Reaction score
1,392
To an extent, it depends on how the Wifi has been set up - but in a Halls of Residence, it'll usually be pretty secure. It's more a worry if someone sets up a "man in the middle " device, that pretends to be the WiFi access point you want to connect to, but is actually someone running a bit of kit pretending to be this.

Universities are normally pretty good with security, so I am sure they will have set up things like user isolation (so computers on the same network can't see eachother). In short, I'd be happy using this without worry. Even if someone did have access to the network somehow, so many sites these days are secured with SSL, that it would be extremely difficult to spy on data anyway. Banks have used SSL for years and now most sites do (this one for example).
 

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments. After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.

Ask a Question

Top