I'm at a coffee shop and it is offering Google wifi for free. It does not have a password to authenticate. Is this network insecure?

More technically, does a wifi network with WPA/WPA2 password encrypt or encode data and WPA networks do not? Or is encryption only performed on https type of secure connections?


Yes, but it depends on something too. If the public wifi with password has the password listed somewhere for people to read it, then it is equally insecure as the open public wifi without password.

The idea is that a hacker who is on the same network with his gear can use this wifi connection to hack your wifi by using a router and set it up to have the same login credentials as the place you connect to. In essense they will make you log on his network instead of the one you actually want, then use that method to hack your laptop.

But if you have to get the password from the owner, it is too much security risk for the hacker to get that password, so they won't bother. Because asking for that password means the hacker is no longer anonymous.

  • Using a VPN will stop the fake wireless hacker doing anything with the data. – DavidPostill Jul 6 '15 at 21:16
  • @DavidPostill The idea is not so much intercepting data, as to use his device to acquire information. For example, they would prompt you with a webpage that would look like it belongs to the restaurant and asks to fill in some information about yourself before you can use their "hacked" router. And with this information they then can try and skim you. – LPChip Jul 6 '15 at 21:22
  • By cloning the SSID of the owners router? – DavidPostill Jul 6 '15 at 21:27
  • So if I see Coffeeshop Wifi2 and it's actually a hacker and I connect to their computer then he can intercept me watching cat videos on Youtube or me entering my bank account details and I won't know it? So do not connect to wifi networks I do not know of? – 1.21 gigawatts Jul 6 '15 at 21:51
  • @DavidPostill yes. – LPChip Jul 7 '15 at 6:37

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