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Which relevant differences are there when comparing: going online with a computer via WiFI connection or using a Ethernet port and connect with Lan cable to the computer?

1) Aspects such as: VPNs, Firewall, Malware infections, general Internet Security - are all these aspects working the same way in both cases?

2) And when you are using multiple devices connected to the same WIFI network, these devices can potentially interact with each other ("shared network").

Could a device connected via Ethernet cable also fall into this shared network (if yes, how to prevent?)? Or would the Ethernet-connected device be isolated from all other WiFI-connected devices?

Thanks

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You (We) need to understand our environment. "Hostile" environments (coffee shops, conferences) tend to be wireless but with unidentified risks that may exist.

In a business, wireless is more prevalent and largely safe because (broadly) business people are not hackers. This is true of the businesses I am associated with but may not be true for you.

In a residence (single family dwelling on a lot), wireless is normally safe. My residence is safe from potential hackers on the street. In an apartment complex, I would suggest wired connections to maintain safety. You do not know who is around in a dense surrounding like this.

Once in a Tunnel, traffic is safe whether wired or wireless input (and output at the other end). Inside the VPN tunnel is quite safe. Use the best type of VPN you can.

Firewall concepts and workstation security (Windows Defender) are pretty much the same, wired or wireless.

Multiple devices on the same shared network: wireless does present a larger risk than wired. I am assuming the area of sharing is small. But be aware if sharing is in a residence or in an apartment where you do not know what others are doing. The real key is (always has been) to be aware of your surroundings

If people are trying to access other devices (networking, file sharing), it does not really matter wired vs wireless.

Wireless here to stay and is expanding, so make sure wireless radios use secure transmission and that wireless devices can use the high security.

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  • thx, and "The WLAN segment and LAN might be configured to be the same broadcast domain; usually they are not." ": devices connected to ethernet and others connected to wifi CAN be in the same network and talk to each other." --- how can I proactively PREVENT wifi and wired from interacting/being in the same same broadcast domain? can I do that on the OS level or only in the Router Device settings? thanks – threeeMiaNichole May 20 at 10:45
  • @threeeMiaNichole Generally, it's a router setting. On a consumer router, it's usually under guest network or something similar. You could do something similar if you had no control over the router, such as putting all the trusted PC's on a VPN. – Programmdude May 20 at 11:12
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    Wireless is not safe in a business or a residence. One cannot simple say "Most of the people around me are not hackers, therefore wireless is safe or largely safe." To weight security, one must assume the presence of an attacker and analyze what defenses and mitigations exist. You are correct about how firewalls and workstation security are the same. Terms like "high security" "largely safe" and "pretty much the same" are not meaningful in this context. – Moby Disk May 20 at 15:11
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    @John "borrowing" neighbors wireless (if the signal is strong enough) is not unheard of and can be done with relative ease. Similarly, if some business doesn't secure/setup their Wireless network properly, they become an easy target for a determined attacker. – Dan M. May 20 at 17:43
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802.11 WiFi uses the Ethernet interface, so all the security issues of Ethernet apply, plus the possibility of the data over WiFi being intercepted by, and possibly altered and retransmitted by a hostile actor (a man in the middle attack), and the broken-so-many-times-it-isn't funny wireless "security".

I do encourage you to consider adding a VPN app with service from a paid VPN provider for added security. I did, for every wireless PC I have.

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  • thx @K7AAY. But why do many say that connecting via lan cable is safer and faster than wireless WiFI?? Again to clarify: You are saying that when 2 PCs connected via wireless WiFI, and a 3rd PC connected via Lan cable-> ALL 3 PCs would be in the same shared network? – threeeMiaNichole May 19 at 21:54
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    @threeeMiaNichole One aspect of safety is whether an intruder has to enter your building and attach somdevice to a visible socket, or whethre they could hide in the bushes across the street, -- The WLAN segment and LAN segment are obviously separated on the physical layer, but might be configured to be the same broadcast domain; usually they are not. – Hagen von Eitzen May 20 at 5:54
  • @threeeMiaNichole safer: because if there is no wireless, someone would have to plug in a cable to attack you. With wireless, they just have to be close enough to get a connection to that. faster: without going into technical detail, data transfer through a cable IS faster than wireless. Cables have way less to worry about, e.g. interference from other wireless networks or even microwaves, reflection of the signal from walls, and so on. – Syndic May 20 at 5:57
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    802.11 WiFi is not Ethernet. It only requires that an Ethernet-compatible interface be provided to applications, but that's emulated and it does not actually use Ethernet framing on-air, and has a few differences in how the link layer behaves besides that – and of course it doesn't use any of the Ethernet physical layer either. – user1686 May 20 at 6:45
  • A man-in-the-middle attack is possible on Ethernet too. 802.11 is arguably safer because it is usually encrypted at the Data Link layer, while wired Ethernet traffic is not. This is why the first 802.11 encryption was named "WEP" for "Wired Equivalent Privacy." The goal was to make 802.11 as hard to break into as the physical network of Ethernet. – Moby Disk May 20 at 15:07
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First of all: the „Language“ aka protocol the connected devices speak is the same in Wifi and wired networks. Therefor all transfer based security measurements (firewall, vpn, general internet security) are exactly the same.

And yes: devices connected to ethernet and others connected to wifi CAN be in the same network and talk to each other.

But of course you also can keep them separate and some (home) routers like the FritzBox have a „one switch“ setting to prevent wifi and wired from interacting.

BUT: wifi has a much broader attack range than wired networks. To tamper with a wired network you need to have physical access to one of the network ports to plug your cable in. Wifi networks are usually reachable even outside the house where they are broadcasted. So it is enough to just sit in a car next to a house to be able to break into the network.

And here are a lot of weaknesses in WiFi that an attacker can try to use.

Hacking is not always about stealing your data, but sometimes just for fun or to get free internet.

So securitywise wifi is much weaker than wired although there of course are counter measurements against most attacks.

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  • "The WLAN segment and LAN might be configured to be the same broadcast domain; usually they are not." ": devices connected to ethernet and others connected to wifi CAN be in the same network and talk to each other." --- how can I proactively PREVENT wifi and wired from interacting/being in the same broadcast domain? can I do that on the OS level or only in the Router Device settings? thanks – threeeMiaNichole May 20 at 10:44
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    @threeeMiaNichole you need to look on your wifi access point for this setting. It is often called wifi isolation but it could be different depending on the brand of your device. Googling for "wifi isolation + the brand / model of your device" should allow you to find how to enable it. – JFL May 20 at 13:58

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