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Just wondering what the security implications are of running Windows 7 HomeGroup over an unsecured (open) WiFi network.

Are there known hacks on the HomeGroup password or is it possible to otherwise break in to HomeGroup files, resources, printers, and computers without knowing the password?

Can someone "sniff" the files that are being shared?

My gut tells me that there's no encryption of HomeGroup traffic, but I don't know for sure.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

The answer is not correct. HomeGroup traffic is indeed encrypted:

Section 5.1:

"The HomeGroup Protocol relies partially on the Peer-to-Peer Grouping Security Protocol [MS-PPSEC] to secure the PeerGroup traffic. Encryption and hashing within the sent messages is achieved through open cryptographic standards."

AES 256bit is used to encrypt messages with credentials, and AES 128bits is used when transferring files.

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I've changed the marked answer to this one. According to documentation, traffic is encrypted. So then I guess it is secure (or secure enough for some values of "secure") to run HomeGroup over an open WiFi network. – Posco Grubb Jan 6 at 17:28

This is very unsecure and a very bad idea. There is no encryption of traffic passing between computers on a HomeGroup network and by passing it over an unencrypted network makes it very easy to listen in on that data. While even an encrypted wifi is not foolproof, it's far, far better than leaving it open and makes it much harder for hackers to find an in to your network.

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Isn't the HomeGroup itself password protected? Or am I just missing something? – Ivo Flipse Mar 10 '10 at 15:01
Becoming part of HomeGroup is password-protected, but Bblake says that the traffic is not encrypted, which means anyone can "listen in" on communication among HomeGroup computers. – Posco Grubb Mar 10 '10 at 16:54
And a windows password is not all that difficult to bypass once you have access to the network, which an open WIFI would enable you to easily do. – BBlake Mar 10 '10 at 17:51
Is Windows File Sharing through Windows VPN an okay solution? – Posco Grubb Mar 11 '10 at 16:51
If you're using a VPN, then that would be fine as the traffic would be encrypted as it passes through the VPN tunnel from one machine to the other. In this case the only thing an encrypted WIFI would really add is a second layer of encryption. – BBlake Mar 11 '10 at 16:55

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