Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I just moved into a communal office and one the utilities offered a free web access via a shared network. Aside from being blindly trusting or constantly paranoid what active steps can I take to determine my shared network security? Just like I might check the doors of the building are locked and windows are closed to prevent the theft of my tangible office goods.

It's small hardwired office network. I'm running on Macbook Pro with OS version 10.6.8 I have my firewall enabled and no shared folders.

Mostly I just imagine someone could watch network traffic and gather bank account, email or other information.

Direct answers or links to essential reading would be welcomed.

share|improve this question
up vote 1 down vote accepted

A how-to really addresses the core of your question. Ensure Network Security with a VPN (Virtual Private Network.

Additionally, you should be aware that nearly all traffic (in the USA) that relates to banks, and/or email is by-default encrypted. has an article on how to tell if a webpage uses SSL encryption.

Gary Kessler's article on cryptography goes a little more in-depth, discussing (in detail) The SSL "Family" of Secure Transaction Protocols for the World Wide Web

share|improve this answer
Great. Thanks for the references. Correct me if I'm wrong but when I connect to a bank or even gmail using https then, by definition my, transmission is secure from eavesdroppers, correct? – ChrisFM Feb 14 '12 at 0:02
Essentially, that is correct. Eavesdroppers can however packet sniff but it may be very hard, if not impossible for them to actually decrypt anything. – wizlog Feb 14 '12 at 1:00
Thanks for you help. This has got me into a realm of understanding so that I can continue to research. – ChrisFM Feb 14 '12 at 22:24
I disagree about email : if using a webmail, then yes it is often via https, so it's encrypted. But if using the Office's mail system, it is often simple SMTP between your computer and the office server handling emails, and those can easily be sniffed over the LAN. (sometimes you can switch to a more secure TLS/SSL way, but not always, and not always by default) – Olivier Dulac Apr 11 '13 at 16:49

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.