security tips for using public wifi?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by sir42, Jun 16, 2007.

  1. sir42 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2003
    Location:
    NY, NY
    #1
    I have all of my firewalls turned on in system preferences, but I read that my passwords could theoretically still be mined on a public network when I'm sending email in Mail or logging onto iChat.

    I don't need to log onto my bank's website while I'm surfing at Starbucks or at the train station, but I would like to use Mail and iChat without worry.

    Is there anything I can do to know that my data is secure while I'm on a public wifi network?

    thanks!
     
  2. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2004
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    #2
    Not really. Theoretically anyone can grab the data as it flies through the air. However, in practice you'd be very unlikely to have this happen to you, especially if it's not banking passwords.
     
  3. sir42 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2003
    Location:
    NY, NY
    #3
    I was on the train from NY to DC this morning and there was an open access point that stayed active the whole time called "Free Public WiFi". This seemed odd considering I haven't heard anything from Amtrak about wifi being offered while the train was in operation (although I have heard that they were offering wifi in some stations).

    I finally decided to give it a shot when we hit MD. When I selected this network from the Airport pulldown menu the wifi strength icon at the top of the screen indicated that I was actually connected to another computer (at least I think that's what it was trying to tell me).

    I was watching the Today show the other day and they did a segment on these rogue networks that are designed to mine for passwords and other sensitive information. While at the time I thought that seemed a little paranoid, this "Free Public WiFi" network on the train definitely seemed fishy so I quickly disconnected.

    This is the kind of thing I'm most worried about. Outside of common sense (or for that matter paranoia), I would like to feel safe while surfing the web at Bryant Park or in my hotel room.
     
  4. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2004
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    #4
    I think that's the best you can do. Just be savvy with which networks you connect to.
     

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