I use wireless and wired networks at my university (which do connect to the Internet), both of which I connect to using my own computer. To access the Internet from these networks, students and staff must login to a portal and enter institutional credentials. For the sake of this question, I am assuming that both networks are routed through the same array of switches.

Here's my question: Is the wired network at my institution inherently more secure than the wireless network? Would I be less susceptible to eavesdropping by other clients within the network(s) if I used the wired network?

This question relates more to a fundamental question about the inherent vulnerabilities in wired and wireless network setups (respectively) than to the specific scenario described above.

If I am obviously misrepresenting something or if clarification is needed, please let me know.


2 Answers 2


It kind of depends on the security used for the wireless access points, and the authentication methods. I would expect WPA2 with 802.1X as this is common for enterprise networks. However there are many EAP variants, some of which are insecure. For the exact details you should find the authentication method used. It doesn't necessarily need to be so, but usually wifi is more vulnerable to attacks


Yes, simply because in general you have less attack surface when connected to a wired network. With wireless you are extending access to your device across a larger space potentially accessible by more systems AND you have more protocols exposed due to the need for auto negotiation between different devices.

This is not to say that there aren't situations where the reverse would be the case ( it always depends on the situation and you are asking a very broad question ). But in general, not taking into account in-transit encryption issues to your local router, it would be more secure.

Another way to look at it. Lets say these two scenarios occurred inside a bank. Would you think an ethernet cable connecting a tellers cash drawer to the network would be better or a wireless signal which could be received a few blocks away ? In this scenario wireless breaks some of the physical security controls (the buildings security) and exposes communications a few blocks away. The wired connection does not do this.

Again there could be scenarios where it works better the other way but it's the combination of all security controls that will be important in those situations.

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