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Secure surfing the net on wireless?

Discussion in 'Tech Talk' started by armorplated, Nov 16, 2008.

  1. armorplated


    May 3, 2007
    If you're using a laptop with wireless, and go into a Starbucks, the administrator can't view your activities as long as your connection is encrypted.

    I've forgotten why the above is true. Why is it true?
  2. the admin could see the encrypted data in a raw form (not that anyone at starbucks would know how too) but it should look like random numbers. Essentially you are using public key encryption authenticated by a trusted site to encrypt the message. thats why you see the little https (ssl). You are encrypting the data on your own system then releasing it in packaged form over a public network (starbucks and the net) it is accepted and decrypted by whatever website you sent it too. It is never unencrypted while on the public network and you know it is going to the right place because it was authenticated by a third (already known and trusted) party.

    Edit: this will make it more clear then I can say it:
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2008

  3. Big Al 24

    Big Al 24

    Apr 23, 2008
    If you're really the paranoid type, there is probably no form of wireless security that will give you a warm fuzzy feeling.
  4. kc8ykd


    Oct 6, 2005
    At some point, that encrypted wireless connection turns to an wired unencrypted connection and it's security is anybody's guess. But, if your browsing session, as glockophilic pointed out, IS encrypted (SSL), then you should be fine.

    The best option would be to use a VPN connection to a location/server who's outbound connection you trust, which would encrypt ALL of of the traffic from your laptop to that trusted server (pop/smtp email et al).

    A Starbucks scenario provides for a number of points where traffic could easily be sniffed. One being over the air, two being at the access point/switch/router interconnect, three being the upstream provider's location and so on.

    Double check that padlock every time you transmit or recieve sensitive information or use a VPN.
  5. DoubleWide


    Sep 3, 2008
    Wireless surfing is not 100% secure, but ssl is a step in the right direction.

    Passive sniffing (eavesdropping) could record all the encrypted traffic and decrypt it at a later date. Not very easy and very time consuming.

    More likely is Man In the Middle Attacks. You basically connect to them without realizing (arp poisoning, fake hotspot) and everything goes through them. You're using SSL to them and they create an SSL connection to your bank. They see everything instantly.