November 10, 2010

Free WiFi or Secure WiFi

I wasn't a big fan of free WiFi. Don't get me wrong, I love having free stuff, but when it came to WiFi, free almost always meant it was unencrypted. And that meant that my security was basically at the mercy of everyone else sharing the connection with me.

This is because, every time you browsed on an open WiFi connection (except when it was a https page), anyone could easily see what you are browsing. There are a number of powerful tools that allow you to snoop on everyone else. To make matters worse, recent news indicates that even having https was no protection. FireSheep is a Firefox plugin that makes taking over other people's connections almost trivial.

The one protection against this form of security holes is, well, having an encrypted WiFi connection. Chester Wisniewski, a Security Advisor at Sophos, has a potential solution. To encrypt all free WiFi connections using a default password - "free". That way the connection remains just as accessible, but it also puts security high up on the agenda. And maybe, people like me would not be so wary of free WiFi connections anymore.

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