Why Are Public Networks Dangerous??

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  1.    #1

    Why Are Public Networks Dangerous??


    I've read about the dangers of being connected to a free, public network. When I do connect to a public network, I dont check my email and I dont send any data out. So how can a hacker hack me if all I'm doing is just downloading files from a credible source?
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  2. jimbo45's Avatar
    Posts : 7,525
    Windows / Linux : Centos, Ubuntu, OpenSuse
       #2

    Hi there

    just because something is potentially dangerous doesn't mean that you shouldn't use it -- just be aware of the possible dangers involved and use carefully.

    The Bus analogy isn't really very good as all sorts of people have different amounts of natural immunity so if they were all on the bus doing the same thing then the risk isn't the same. Computer users on a public network doing different things would potentially expose themselves to different levels of risk but doing the same tasks would expose them to the same levels of risk.

    The Car analogy isn't OK either -- car at the back might bump into you and cause an accident - however that's true any time you get into a car on a crowded road (what's a crowded road !!!! we don't have any here -- just some dangerous icy stretches !!!!).

    The thing though is not to get into "panic state" -- some of the threads for example I've seen on the Anti Virus section in the forum would make people think that as soon as you got within 50 metres of a computer screen the fires of Hell would leap out and consume you - when in fact even with standard WD protection and common sense Viruses these days are fortunately quite rare at the individual level.

    Know what the pitfalls are and act accordingly -- if you really have any problems with public wifi or even wired Lan's say in decent hotels then don't use. Q.E.D !!!

    what I do in these places is to use my portable router which has its own password, proxy and data encryption to connect to the public wifi sysytem- but I agree doing sensitive things like online banking in public places isn't a good idea.

    Cheers
    jimbo
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  3.    #3

    Q: A good question.
    A #1: A nonsense analogy. A non-answer.
    A #2: Refutes the silly analogy. S'good. But still no answer.
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  4. jimbo45's Avatar
    Posts : 7,525
    Windows / Linux : Centos, Ubuntu, OpenSuse
       #4

    Hi there
    I thought it's pretty obvious -- any tom dick harry (or lizzie --we have to add the ladies in these days!!) with a tiny bit of engineering know how can grab and decode the wifi signals which are normally sent from your wifi card (it's a transmitter as well as a receiver) to the public router as plain text and then the response back from the router as also plain text. Also unless you have locked down your computer properly it may well be visible to anybody else on the network and potentially a user can look around and extract any data they think might be of value.

    The danger isn't so much from malevolent hackers wanting to infect a myriad of machines but to extract personal information which can be used for identity theft, credit card fraud, and all sorts of other scams - who knows what some of these people can devise.

    Used carefully public sites are not a problem - but be aware as its public anybody could be lurking on it - not always with honourable intentions.

    Cheers
    jimbo
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  5. Barman58's Avatar
    Posts : 3,036
    Windows 10 Pro x64 1903 - 18362.53 XP/Vista/Win7/Win8.1 in VM for testing
       #5

    The issue is due to the way that the Internet works.

    For a user to access their required site on the net, Data needs to be sent to the website and received by the user's device, this allows the page(s) to be seen by the user.

    For a basic website such as a google search there should be little, or no, private data involved in the negotiation. The issue still exists but the data is not personal and private

    However, if you go onto a site that needs any authorisation to prove that you are a valid user then you may be at risk, this is due to the fact that most, if not all, free internet access does not use any encryption between the user's device and the Wireless Router, which means that unsavoury types can scan the wireless channels and "grab" data from the Air, if this includes private data then the data can be used for nefarious purposes.

    There is a simple, (but not always free), cure for using free wifi, which is a Virtual Private Network, that basically automatically encrypts all data packets sent to the endpoint, ( the remote website) I myself use the Bitdefender VPN which cost me around £40 per year, Additional to my Anti Malware system) and automatically switches on if I attempt to access an unencrypted WiFi system with any of my mobile devices
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  6. jl2509's Avatar
    Posts : 193
    Windows 10 Pro
       #6

    Wow, thats some anaology. A bus and a car, really!

    A Google search and information from Kaspersky labs below details a little more and should provide the answers you seek.

    https://www.kaspersky.co.uk/resource...lic-wifi-risks

    All said though, nothing is secure, you see all the time companies being hacked and they have millions of $ to try and implement security, sometimes without success as there is always someone somewhere trying to get what is yours.

    A bit of common sense is required and to be aware of the dangers involved. Secure public networks and unsecured public networks are obviously a threat due to volume of external connections, but a simple VPN can help here.

    All networks hold a potential threat, including home networks, and depends entirely on the security levels, updates, and spyware/antivirus protection.

    Lets be pragmatic in our approaches though, otherwise If we are to think everything is dangerous, then we will not enable Bluetooth, 3g, LTE or wifi on any device.
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  7. jimbo45's Avatar
    Posts : 7,525
    Windows / Linux : Centos, Ubuntu, OpenSuse
       #7

    Hi folks
    a private VPN is good advice but you can also use a portable router.

    The portable router is great if say you are in a hotel and you want to give a demo / work meeting for say 3 or 4 workmates. As well as encryption this device connects as 1 device seen by the hotel router, meanwhile your workmates logon to your private network you've just set up -- usually decent hotels have fast enough Internet for this.

    (Shhh !!!! " I've sometimes done this in hotels to allow neighbouring rooms to access my Netflix programs) !!

    It saves also using your phone to set up an access point as well.

    Nothing is truely 100% "hack Proof" - but taking reasonable precautions and not treating public wifi sites as if they are as secure as CIA internal encrypted facilities you should be fine.

    The problem with public wifi sites and encryption is that there would then have to be a standard algorithm -- and once that is in the public domain anybody could run the decryption p[rocess.

    Cheers
    jimbo
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  8. TairikuOkami's Avatar
    Posts : 3,797
    Home 1903 x64 10.0.18362.239
       #8

    Wow. I was not expecting Kaspersky to use scareware, so people would buy their products.

    Hacker can not see encrypted traffic, when the webpage uses SSL, most webpages do (all banks/emails) and the rest will do soon because of Google, no need to install any addon. Sure, he can listen to the traffic and try to use MITM to hijack it, but that is highly unlikely, especially when the user has properly updated Windows, browser, AV, etc. The risk is actually created by AVs like Kaspersky, which decrypts SSL by inserting their certificate, making it less secure. SSL scanning is the first thing users should disable in AV.
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  9. jimbo45's Avatar
    Posts : 7,525
    Windows / Linux : Centos, Ubuntu, OpenSuse
       #9

    TairikuOkami said: View Post
    Wow. I was not expecting Kaspersky to use scareware, so people would buy their products.

    Hacker can not see encrypted traffic, when the webpage uses SSL, most webpages do (all banks/emails) and the rest will do soon because of Google, no need to install any addon. Sure, he can listen to the traffic and try to use MITM to hijack it, but that is highly unlikely, especially when the user has properly updated Windows, browser, AV, etc. The risk is actually created by AVs like Kaspersky, which decrypts SSL by inserting their certificate, making it less secure. SSL scanning is the first thing users should disable in AV.
    Hi there

    The thing nearly everybody forgets in the first place -- it's not your logon credentials to the target website / vpn or whatever --that can be encrypted zillions of times - probably more ways than in the great late Isaac Asimov's science fiction work "The nine Million names of God".

    The real problem starts right on your computer as you have to send data in the first place to the public wifi router usually to logon. You usually have to logon with some credentials -- even if it's free and these are in plain text of course - and then your target website address will be in plain text even if the data is not -- the public router won't be able to encrypt the target website address -- no problem with the data pages that are transmitted / received from the remote website but the public router will still have to know what computer is making / receiving the request and what website it needs to send / receive from.

    I'm not a network guru but I have been an Engineer for donkeys years so I'd imagine that before you can logon to your VPN over a public network it's going to ask you for a user name / password. A data capturing device will be able to replicate that -- and then bingo you are in.

    For typical corporate users on the road etc using VPN's isn't a major risk but just remember ANY public wifi network can be hacked without the hackers even knowing a lot about computers -- old fashioned Engineers can be just as "dangerous too" even when using technology better suited to the time of these creatures.

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    !!!! just be aware when you use the internet it's not as secure as the old Alcatraz Island U.S federal prison.

    cheers
    jimbo
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  10.    #10

    One big difference is there is no router between you and anybody else on that network. If your at home behind a router, all that is seen from the Internet side is the Routers public WAN IP address. It appears as just one device and most ports are closed / blocked. All devices on the LAN side get private not viewable from the Internet IP addresses.
    Log on to a public hot spot and your PC's IP address is accessible to anybody else on that hot spot. They can then probe your PC for open ports etc. Or sniff packets etc. There is nothing between your PC and theirs. Except your software firewall / antivirus etc.
    Thats my understanding anyway, I'm no networking guru by any means.
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