I know that the first response to a question titled like so is "seriously?". I know the answers exists, but I am just trying to put everything together.

Using and/or having an open Wi-Fi network is dangerous, as per the millions of reasons on the internet. My question is, in reality, how dangerous? Let me explain:

The example situation I'm thinking about is using an open Wi-Fi network at a public library. I know that is trivial to access all data sent in the clear, but if I rely on HTTPS (assuming a valid certificate) for all sensitive browsing, (banking, social media, e-mail, etc.) then is there still an issue?

Also, I know that it is as well trivial to obtain a user's MAC address, but I am not aware of any dangers associated with this. If I understand correctly, a MAC address is no different from a physical address, and poses no harm in the wrong hands.

The only issue I can possibly think of, and this may be a stretch, is the threat of remote takeover. Is it possible if two computers (for example, two separate library patrons) are connected to the same network for one to remotely control the other easily? I have not come across anything to say so. Open ports are dangerous, is this why? In my specific case, I use things like MAMP, could this be a vulnerability if I were to use it while connected?

I feel that with the rise of easy "hacking" tools such as Firesheep, a lot of users (such as myself) think of using open wireless networks as a form of virtual suicide. But more and more I am starting to think that with the proper counter-measures, using an open network can be no different to using a WPA/WPA2 encrypted network.

As per running/having an unencrypted network, does the same not apply? Assuming that I don't care about others mooching off of my internet, what are the downfalls? (Just as a side note though, I am not supporting the use of open networks, as securing it is trivial, provided it is your own.)



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