Networking & Wireless forum

General discussion

Do you use public Wi-Fi access points?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / July 30, 2010 8:29 AM PDT

Do you use public Wi-Fi access points?

-- Yes. (How do you keep your transmitted data safe?)
-- No. (By choice? or Because you don't have the need to?)
-- Occasionally. (How do you keep your transmitted data safe?)

Post a reply
Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: Do you use public Wi-Fi access points?
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: Do you use public Wi-Fi access points?
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
Collapse -
Anyone that said no is lying!
by bhaverkamp / July 30, 2010 10:34 AM PDT

nobody would provide a service that only 16% of the public would use.

Collapse -
by Doh_1 / July 30, 2010 12:17 PM PDT

First, the question wasn't "have you ever", the question was "would you".

Secondly, do you have any idea how many people 16% of us is? That's a lot of people...if I could start a business or service that would only be used by 16% of people that have laptops (or whatever), that would make me very happy (and potentially very rich).

Last, why lie on a voluntary, anonymous poll? That just doesn't make sense to me.


Collapse -
Why would I lie?
by rmf / July 31, 2010 8:18 AM PDT

Never have used one. May never need to use one.

Collapse -
I frequently use Public WiFi
by john3347 / July 30, 2010 11:00 AM PDT

I often use public WiFi even when my own aircard and Cradlepoint router WiFi is available. I try not to transmit or receive any information over public, or otherwise unsecured WiFi that would likely be harmful to me if it were posted on a billboard somewhere. Un-secured WiFi is that un-secure!

Collapse -
I do - with security
by paul_saute / July 30, 2010 12:41 PM PDT

Hotspot Shield

Collapse -
I have no reason to do that.
by BERTOLOFCARBRING / July 30, 2010 1:31 PM PDT

When I have a cable connected pc and even a Android base mobile smart phone so do I not use them when I am only checking my own emails and things like that, and if I need to use a Forum option so can I visit those anyway, and not at a public place such as a Internet Caf

Collapse -
isn't it ironic
by sawatzky / July 30, 2010 1:37 PM PDT

Isn't it ironic that this very forum is exactly the kind of website that is [potentially] unsafe to use at a wireless hotspot? I had to log in to create this comment. The login page is plain "http:", which means my password went out unencrypted. For these kinds of sites I use my worst, or easiest to guess passwords, because everybody who wants to can see it anyways. I don't care if someone takes over my C|net account. I'll just not come here anymore if that happens. I get so mad at so call experts that don't even heed their own advice. When you're using public wi-fi you need to browse smart. Only provide your [good] passwords to sites that use "https:"... which almost every financial institution and commercial venture already uses. Save your throwaway passwords for sites like C|NET that don't care enough to protect your password for you. Don't worry about buying music and apps from the iTunes store at Starbucks... that's all encrypted. Don't worry about using bank sites if you HAVE to (I'd still play it safe and save that for home). Before you log in anywhere, look for the "https:" and if it's only "http", decide how important it is to you to get in, and make sure that password is not the same as your bank password. Above all, trusted access point or not, treat every hotspot as if a guy in a black hood was watching the entire data stream right in front of you.

Collapse -
Protect Your Connection
by rarpsl / July 30, 2010 5:41 PM PDT

When I travel and stay at a Hotel and use their WiFi connection (as opposed to a friend's home where I have a wired connection) I restrict my usage to Email and sites I do not need to log onto. In addition, all the Email accounts I use while on the road at least do an Encrypted one-time-key (CRAM-MD5) Handshake or, even better, use a SSL Session. That way my logon is protected and with the SSL Session so is my content. For those accounts that use security-by-obscurity handshakes (PLAIN or LOGON) [where the handshake is a constant or can be unBASE64'ed to expose its content] or offer only plain text logons with no option to use SSL, I do not check my email since I can wait until I get home to check these accounts. If the Hotel offers wired connections, I follow the same rules since I assume that they can listen in on the session or there can be a line monitor connected in another room. I have also found some hotels that use a SMTP Proxy to hijack the attempt to establish a Port25 connection (or who block the attempt to use Port587 to get an encrypted handshake). The worst was a proxy that claimed to offer SMTP AUTH which triggers the transmission of the UserID/PW pair and then accepted whatever was sent. This latter configuration would allow logging and stealing of these pairs so long as CRAM-MD5 was not an offered method (and which the user's MUA selected and used).

Collapse -
Bad scoring
by DOBM / July 30, 2010 6:10 PM PDT

Why score a poll when the percentages don't add-up? Currently the 'yes' + 'no' + 'occassionally' add-up to 129%. Neat, there's lots of government bodies who'd like your polling engine.

Collapse -
security is an illusion - or at the very least, non-absolute
by punterjoe / July 30, 2010 10:01 PM PDT

I have few reservations about using public hotspots, but I do so with the presumption that someone is looking over my shoulder - literally or figuratively. I will never do stuff like banking or anything sensitive or embarrassing. Since I don't delude myself that I'm brighter than anyone who wants my data, I just make sure my public surfing is so mundane as to present an unappealing target to anyone snooping. Nothing anyone gets from intercepting my public wifi session couldn't be obtained easier from direct access to public sites (wx, traffic data etc).

Collapse -
Ha! Not lying just a technophobe!
by llcarothers / July 30, 2010 10:07 PM PDT

Good to see I'm not the only one not useing public acess wi fi. I am a borderline technophobe and cannot see HOW it can be safe with all the extra hoops I have had to learn here at home to make my wireless "safe" I know these cafes amd coffeshops are not going thru everything I was advised to do to keep our family safe...It runs into a time and money concept most free acess points are not going to expend on for a no charge situation.

Collapse -
No need tp...
by ESUNintel / July 30, 2010 10:32 PM PDT

My iPhone and iPad have built in AT&T and my Vaio has built in Verizon. I'm connected to the net when and where I need too and don't have to worry about how secure the network is.

Collapse -
Use SSH.
by Nathan Zadoks / July 30, 2010 11:27 PM PDT

Wherever I go, if there is public wifi access, I use SSH tunneling to keep my data secure.
On my laptop I use ssh -D to set up a SOCKS proxy (for example, ssh -D 1080 to set a SOCKS proxy up on port 1080) and then I use privoxy to allow Chrome to use the SSH tunnel. (Chrome does not support SOCKS proxies)
I use other programs with tsocks.
On windows, you could do it with PuTTY instead of the OpenSSH client. Tunnels are settable under SSH->Tunnels.
I wouldn't know how to replace tsocks though.

Collapse -
wi fi hotspot security and skype
by rusmorr / July 31, 2010 2:25 AM PDT
In reply to: Use SSH.

Hi there forum I am still a bit confused.
I use hotspots for 90% of my access and I avoid transmitting sensitive info but as i travel alot I video call my fam and friends so does that mean someone could actually view one or both sides of the call and if so short of isolating myself how could I be more protected?
Also I am not sure its only the data transmitted or is the data on my pc also vulnerable. Are there any programs that short of protecting me will at least inform me when someone is looking at my data

Collapse -
Encrypted.. but not very secure
by Nathan Zadoks / July 31, 2010 2:37 AM PDT

Skype is encrypted, although they'll give the key to anyone who is or claims to be a government organisation.

Collapse -
by rusmorr / July 31, 2010 2:53 AM PDT

thanks Nathan at least its not readily avail in the public domain then?
It would seem from your reply that I would have had to attract someones attention sufficiently so for them to go thru the added effort.
I think for the average joe you mostly need to avoid the casual opportunistic hackers sitting in a hotspot and if you are high profile enough with sensitive enough info you would have adequate security and not use a hotspot or am I deluding myself?

Collapse -
Pretty safe.
by Nathan Zadoks / August 7, 2010 5:24 PM PDT
In reply to: skype

It's not in the public domain, but governments aren't leak-free.
But if you're just talking with friends and family, you're probably fine.

Collapse -
Not a wireless expert
by sissyrn / August 1, 2010 12:25 AM PDT

OK, I am just a regular person using the laptop - I am not a computer guru. I bet there are a lot of "me's" out there reading this. I do not have a lot of knowledge about "secure" and public Wi-Fi access points. Obviously there needs to be more information directed at these risks but in simple easy-to-understand language for the common layman user. I do not understand language with all the acronyms you are using in your replies here. I use my laptop to surf the web anytime I am on vacation etc and there is a wireless connection that I can sign on to. It makes me happy to find one that is public access! Now I feel intimidated that I am putting myself at risk.

I do not do any banking on my computer but I still wonder if there is sensitive information that can put me and the common layperson at risk. Ok, so I might be dumb about all this but I'll bet a lot of the readers here are about like me.

Collapse -
Do you use public Wi-Fi access points?
by MorrisSouthHound / August 2, 2010 3:52 AM PDT

I use a encrypted secure log-in and have not used a public access point. I have a Apple itouch which I would like to try on a public wi-fi hot spot just to surf the web.

Collapse -
VPN is the best way if passwords are involved.
by Juiceyj317 / August 3, 2010 2:01 AM PDT

Any time I am using a "public" hotspot, and that includes hotels with WEP or WPA, I use VPN to my home router running DD-WRT. Mind you, that is only when using my email or doing any surfing that contains passwords or other private info. For "general" surfing, I don't really care, so I don't bother invoking VPN as it does slow the connection a bit. There is a site that allows encrypted surfing through them, You can also set up a server and client scenario with a computer at your home bypassing them completely. Sort of your own VPN.

Collapse -
by rusmorr / August 7, 2010 8:55 PM PDT

hi all great site and my first stop for tech info.
I have been reading about vpn in wi fi hotspots and would like to know how to apply this security please.
Also is there any program avail that could monitor you connection and alert you in realtime to breaches and when someone is stealing your transmissions or looking at your data. something like a big red danger across my screen would do just fine. I use AVG at the moment.

Collapse -
Do you use public Wi-Fi access points?
by swamprat / August 3, 2010 10:07 AM PDT

not available in my area

Collapse -
Yes, Airports, hotels, Librarys
by jstegall1 / August 29, 2010 2:41 AM PDT

I use SSL to login to my accounts. I haven't given surfing the internet much thought. When I access accounts it is an encrypted connection. I keep my firewall on and virus/malware protection up to date.

Collapse -
I hope this is working well for me
by Suspect4 / September 3, 2010 2:27 AM PDT

Hotspot Shield

Collapse -
WI-FI = "on air", Public WI-FI = Public Radio
by ColdWest / November 6, 2011 3:10 PM PST

I only use Public Wi-Fi in locations such as time shares & hotels... rarely at a hotspot as such. The more accessible a Wi-Fi is, the greater the risk of access to your data by unwanted eyes. Perhaps the print medium we all use gives users a false sense of security and that enhances the risk to the point that you might as well be broadcasting on radio.

Popular Forums
Computer Help 49,613 discussions
Computer Newbies 10,349 discussions
Laptops 19,436 discussions
Security 30,426 discussions
TVs & Home Theaters 20,308 discussions
Windows 10 360 discussions
Phones 15,802 discussions
Windows 7 7,351 discussions
Networking & Wireless 14,641 discussions


$16,000 used SUVs

Whether you like your SUVs cute or capable, or some blend of the two, we've got a wide variety of choices in Roadshow's first collection of Editors' Used Picks.