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Visitors to my house always ask for my wifi password which I give them.

Now say they travel to another country, and say they have a smart phone that has an app that uploads wifi related information with the password (i.e. a wifi sniffer/virus).

Can someone in another country somehow break into my home network/router with my wifi password? (assuming they are not in range of actually connecting to the wifi)

I hate changing the password because I have a network printer and I have to reconfigure the printer on multiple devices :)

  • 4
    Your WiFi password is not useful to anyone who is not in range of your network.... unless you're reusing passwords. – heavyd Aug 21 '14 at 19:37
  • Unless the phone has malware on it. I don't see how a phone having the password stored in it could be a security concern. Even then your access point would still have to be located ( which isn't stored ) which can easily be solved by not broadcasting the SSID. You can also just change the password if you are that worried. You can also just configure the router not to allow remote access outside of your network to access the control panel which is normally the default setting anyways – Ramhound Aug 21 '14 at 19:38
  • I see, just wanted to know. Obviously changed the password is the best idea thanks. – public static Aug 21 '14 at 19:39
  • It's not likely to happen, but if your WiFi and admin passwords are different, then you would likely be OK. – CharlieRB Aug 21 '14 at 19:42
  • Just for you to know, it's not rare to see WiFi passwords floating on Internet. Someone who gets your password can past it somewhere on Internet, then anyone who passes by can connect to your WiFi connection. And you shouldn't trust everybody who connects to your local network… – piernov Aug 21 '14 at 21:24
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As with so much else in security, it depends on your threat model.

"Can someone in another country (assuming that you are not right at the border to that other country, and the adversary is immediately on the other side of the border) use the network pre-shared secret (the password) to gain access to the network?"

Generally, no. The frequencies used for wireless networking have very limited range (mainly because of atmospheric attenuation of the signal, plus attenuation in things like walls), and even if someone uses a high-powered transmitter, they still need to receive the signal sent out by your access point, the transmit power of which they supposedly cannot control.

But if the adversary is determined (and powerful) enough, there is little stopping them from parking a car, perhaps equipped with a directional antenna, within range of your network. (You can get pretty good range with physically even moderately sized directional antennas at 2.4 GHz, let alone 5 GHz, and that gain works on both transmit and receive.) At that point, if they have the password, they will be able to connect to the network and participate on it from a much greater distance than you'd be able to with just a wireless-equipped laptop or similar.

Now, the next question becomes: is that a likely scenario? I would say not very. If your threat model included that, you probably wouldn't be asking on a public web site about mitigative steps.

So, in theory, yes, it could potentially be a problem. In practice, as long as you do not reuse the network password anywhere else, you should be fine. That includes the administrative login to your access point, or router, which is good password hygiene anyway (never reuse passwords). If you currently are reusing the network password somewhere else, I would suggest changing both. And if you reused the password somewhere else, it's mainly the sharing a password that you are using for something other than what you consciously decided to share the password for that is the problem, not the network access.

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No, if someone is not in the broadcast range of your access point there is no risk to your network. A best practice would be, of course, to make sure your management password (the password you use to log in to your access point) is different than your network password.

Hope that clarifies things!

(Edit: Yes, as people are adding in other answers...obviously if they leave something in range of your access point and are able to connect to that device they can get on to your network. This is not likely unless they are targeting you, in which case they probably started doing whatever they needed as soon as you gave them the password)

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If someone really wanted to get into your Lan (network behind your router), they would have to have Internet access to a machine near you and then could more or less easily get into your Lan. But even after going to all this trouble they would still have to somehow crack your machines' security.

So it's a lot of trouble for little gain, and probably only the first step. But not impossible for someone really really really determined in having you as a target.

  • I don't really follow? They would need remote access to a computer in the broadcast range of the wireless network as well as the ability to then connect in to it...this would require a lot of setup. If there is no device in the range of his wireless network, they won't be able to get in to it. – Abraxas Aug 21 '14 at 20:04
  • You're repeating my answer. – fullmooninu Aug 21 '14 at 20:09
  • "Can someone in another country somehow break into my home network/router with my wifi password? (assuming they are not in range of actually connecting to the wifi)" Your answer assumes they are in range which is not what was asked. – Abraxas Aug 21 '14 at 20:10
  • No. My answer assumes they can get in range when they are not in range. But if you want to list this possible security breach as an impossibility in your case, then you don't have to worry about it. – fullmooninu Aug 21 '14 at 20:15

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