The decade-old warning to stay off public WIFI systems is no longer valid.
There are still a few small information leaks: HTTPS protects the content of your communications, but not the metadata. So when you visit HTTPS sites, anyone along the communication path—from your ISP to the Internet backbone provider to the site’s hosting provider—can see their domain names (e.g. wikipedia.org) and when you visit them. But these parties can’t see the pages you visit on those sites (e.g. wikipedia.org/controversial-topic), your login name, or messages you send. They can see the sizes of pages you visit and the sizes of files you download or upload. When you use a public Wi-Fi network, people within range of it could choose to listen in. They’d be able to see that metadata, just as your ISP could see when you browse at home. If this is an acceptable risk for you, then you shouldn’t worry about using public Wi-Fi.
Similarly, if there is software with known security bugs on your computer or phone, and those bugs are specifically exploitable only on the local network, you might be at somewhat increased risk. The best defense is to always keep your software up-to-date so it has the latest bug fixes.
What about the risk of governments scooping up signals from “open” public Wi-Fi that has no password? Governments that surveill people on the Internet often do it by listening in on upstream data, at the core routers of broadband providers and mobile phone companies. If that’s the case, it means the same information is commonly visible to the government whether they sniff it from the air or from the wires.
In general, using public Wi-Fi is a lot safer than it was in the early days of the Internet. With the widespread adoption of HTTPS, most major websites will be protected by the same encryption regardless of how you connect to them.
There are plenty of things in life to worry about. You can cross “public Wi-Fi” off your list.
I still run my VPN in and out of the house.
Why Public Wi-Fi is a Lot Safer Than You Think by Jacob Hoffman-Andrews/EFF Deeplinks
[My EFF colleague Bill Budington has a fantastic report on all the ways that Ring surveils its own customers. Caveat emptor, indeed. -Cory] Ring isn’t just a product that allows users to surveil their neighbors. The company also uses it to surveil its customers.
Copyright rules are made with the needs of the entertainment industry in mind, designed to provide the legal framework for creators, investors, distributors, production houses, and other parts of the industry to navigate their disputes and assert their interests.
Real Life. Real News. Real Voices
Tired of all the useless and bloated WordPress spam plugins?The WordPress Zero Spam plugin makes blocking spam a cinch, Just install, activate and say goodbye to spam
[The selloff of the .ORG domain name registry to a private equity fund is fractally terrible, but it’s in danger, thanks to public outcry. My EFF colleague Mitch Stoltz lays out the grotesque contours of the deal and its many deficiencies in this comprehensive overview. -Cory] Over 21,000 people, 660 organizations, and now six Members […]
The dreaded tax season is nearly upon us, but you don’t have to suffer this year as you dig up old receipts and fill out an endless number of forms. In fact, you can turn this tax season into an opportunity to maximize your returns while boosting your financial literacy when you pick up the […]
Unless you’ve been living under an extremely large rock over the past year, you’ve doubtlessly heard about the vaping epidemic, which has put dozens of people in the hospital and threatens the lives of smokers who are simply trying to find a safe way to quit. The SAUC Starter Kit: Lead-free Cannabinoid Delivery System offers […]
A common New Year’s resolution is to learn a new language, which of course makes foreign travel much more enjoyable and sharpens the mind while reducing the cognitive effects of aging. But far too many people give up on their goals because the leading language-learning platforms are either far too expensive or rely on boring […]
Subscribe to the newsletter news
We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe