AT&T free wifi = nuisance/security issue in NYC.

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by mcdj, Aug 13, 2010.

  1. mcdj macrumors 604

    mcdj

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2007
    Location:
    NYC
    #1
    Hate to look a gift horse in the mouth, but the proliferation of AT&T hotspots across NYC is proving to be more trouble than it's worth.

    I will admit part of the problem starts with me. I am addicted to Starbucks iced coffee, and visit most mornings. I surf the web a bit and head to work. Because I do this most days, I auto join the wifi network at my local Starbucks.

    Unfortunately EVERY Starbucks has the exact same network SSID. Herein lies the problem.

    With my iP4, if I go anywhere NEAR a Starbucks or other AT&T hotspot, my phone joins the "attwifi" network. Problem is, it joins regardless of the signal strength, and more often than not, the signal is not adequate to use the web or email. But it's just strong enough that the iPhone won't kick back to 3G automatically. So I end up manually turning off wifi. Then I have to turn it back on when I'm in range of my own home or work network. I end up turning wifi on and off up to 5 times a day because of this, depending on how much walking around I'm doing.

    That's the nuisance part. The security issue is potentially much larger. As more and more of these attwifi hotspots being auto joined by millions of users, more and more data sniffers are apt to create fake attwifi hotspots and potentially compromise users' data. I read about it already happening with fake JetBlue wifi hotspots last year.

    Someone, be it Apple or AT&T, needs to address this. Hotspots need some sort of authentication beyond a common SSID.
     
  2. Irish Rose macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    May 29, 2010
    #2
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_0_2 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/532.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0.5 Mobile/8A400 Safari/6531.22.7)

    Did you call in to AT&T to report the issue. There doesn't seem to be a problem like that here in PA. with AT&T's hotspots. Also, if you do not want your iPhone connecting to WiFi automatically, turn off "ask to join other networks".
     
  3. mcdj thread starter macrumors 604

    mcdj

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2007
    Location:
    NYC
    #3
    Wirelessly posted (iPhone: Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_0 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/532.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0.5 Mobile/8A293 Safari/6531.22.7)

    I realize I could turn on ask to join, but NYC is a sea of wifi hotspots and it would mean constant popups.

    When you say it's not an issue in your area, what do you mean? Does each AT&T hotspot have a unique ID?
     
  4. Irish Rose macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    May 29, 2010
    #4
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_0_2 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/532.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0.5 Mobile/8A400 Safari/6531.22.7)

    To be honest with you, I don't pay attention to the id. I know I'm on an AT&T hotspot because of the signs being posted, and as long as I'm seeing the WiFi symbol at the top, I don't worry about it. You are lucky to have WiFi all over NYC, here in the PA. suburbs, there are many places that I go to without a WiFi connection.
     
  5. nyisles84 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2008
    #5
    I agree. It is definitely a problem. It will grab any one of those wifi hotspots. It usually is too far away for me to grab a connection from it. Luckily as I am jailbroken, SBSettings lets me turn wifi on and off by simply swiping the menu from the top bar in any app. Makes it a bit less painful.
     
  6. Geckotek macrumors G3

    Geckotek

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Location:
    NYC
    #6
    I disagree. Secure the device. Leave the hotspots alone.
     
  7. peteisanidiot macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2010
    #7
    since the same SSID is used couldn't you permanently forget that network to prevent rejoins?
     
  8. Geckotek macrumors G3

    Geckotek

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Location:
    NYC
    #8
    Think prob is that he wants to join sometimes, but not everytime he walks by a Sbux.
     
  9. BeyondtheTech macrumors 68020

    BeyondtheTech

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    #9
    As for me, I manually join attwifi as well as other hotspots, but moreso, I bought a copy of iVPN for my iMac at home (no affiliation). With that and port forwarding on my router all setup easily, I can always create a secure, encrypted connection back home and it routes all my internet traffic through my home machine, even using OpenDNS at home for fast name resolution and filtering of unwanted domains.
     
  10. firewood macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2003
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #10
    Instead of completely turning off wifi, you could just forget that public network until you want to use it again. That's what I do when leaving most public networks (Starbucks, McDonalds, Public Library, etc.) after using them. Forget them and get prompted before rejoining.
     
  11. fedup flyer macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2008
    #11
    Personally, whenever I use a public wifi, free or not. If the info is private enough I do not want it seen by anyone else (banking etc.), I use the VPN function.
    I subscribe to witopia.net.
     
  12. Savage macrumors 6502

    Savage

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2008
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    #12
    This has been a similar nuisance for me as well. Not only in the city, but in various areas that I am frequently at on Long Island, too.
    I didn't actually know this was possible (or more so never thought of even trying it) until now. Problem pretty much solved. Thanks.
     
  13. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2006
    #13
    To me it seems to only work on AT&T phones. Things like computers require some type of log in and you are good to go. My understanding is it is still encrypted but the fact that you have an AT&T phone your phone already has the keys and everything so it auto logs in.
     
  14. Fant macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2009
    #14
    I think they just need to tweak the minimum signal level to auto join wifi networks ...
     
  15. samcraig macrumors P6

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2009
    #15
    the "security" issue exists no matter where in the US you are - not just NYC.

    If someone is going to fake an SSID or make one that seems genuine (like at an airport) then people will connect to that

    the "disadvantage" NYC has - is that there are obviously a lot more "hotspots" and perhaps a lot more people with criminal intent - especially in high tourist areas.
     

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