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Is there a way to use open wi-fi with your laptop, but WITHOUT using a VPN solution, in a secure fashion? (i.e. to avoid man in the middle, passwords in the clear etc)

For example all that comes to mind for the moment is: * firefox with HTTPS everywhere plugin - that only allows HTTPS connections (but this could limit some of the sites you use I guess)

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should be on superuser.com –  cstamas Nov 15 '10 at 21:53
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migrated from serverfault.com Nov 15 '10 at 22:05

This question came from our site for professional system and network administrators.

2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Any unencrypted traffic will be at risk. You can use TLS/SSL enabled protocols to prevent passwords from passing in the clear. Depending on your email software you can use IMAPS and SMTPS to secure your traffic, or STARTTLS on IMAP and SMTP to prevent passwords from traveling in the clear. SFTP can be used for file transfers.

Internet traffic passing in the clear is vulnerable to password harvesting anywhere along the connection. Open wi-fi makes it easier to capture the data at the endpoint.

Any passwords you want secure should never be sent over unencrypted connections. Always use HTTPS for web based log-on wi-fi or not.

Use anonymous credentials for windows shares, FTP, and similar protocols. Only information which can be safely make public should be passed in this manner.

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thanks BillThor - so it sounds like SSL is the only real way to tackle this - guess this implies you should only use sites that stay in HTTPS, or sites that you don't log into & don't care about people snooping –  Greg Nov 15 '10 at 23:24
    
If you care about people snooping traffic, stick to HTTPS or other SSL/TLS enabled protocols. Manage your passwords accordingly. –  BillThor Nov 15 '10 at 23:29
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As long as the line is not secure there is not much you can do that can save you from MITM (Man in the Middle) and arp poisoning.

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