I connect to WiFi at coffee shops using VPN regularly but I'm apprehensive to join a random open network (ex. "CARRIER47393") in a residential area. Should I avoid using it (even with VPN)?

My concern is that a hacker could set up a free network, allowing greater access to data (because they have full control of the entire network "admin") vs hacker accessing the network remotely at a coffee shop ("user").

  • 2
    Do I understand it correctly that you would somehow (with VPN) trust a network named similar to a coffee shop even if you don't know if this really from the coffee shop but you would less trust a network with some unrelated name. But, wouldn't you expect that a smart hacker does a bit of social engineering and will make his network sound more appealing? This would mean that you should trust a network with a seemingly trustable name even less :) Jun 30, 2017 at 15:25
  • @SteffenUllrich 1) assume I'm positive correct network 2) regular name + no password = suspect. Savvy enough to change name but not pass?
    – JBallin
    Jun 30, 2017 at 20:15

1 Answer 1


Open wifi is open wifi, whether is is residential or not. A MITM can be performed on a coffee shop network just the same as it could be done on a residential network, albeit using different means.

There is no higher or lower level of security between a coffee shop's wifi and a residential wifi.

  • The difference is that the hacker has direct access to the network, and that's the essence of my question
    – JBallin
    Jun 30, 2017 at 17:54
  • Can you clarify what you mean by direct access to the network? The attacker can be directly connected to the network in either scenario. Jun 30, 2017 at 18:06
  • I mean that they have complete control: access point, router, etc could configure the network however they want. For example I'm under the impression that corporations are able to monitor everything their employees do so clearly there's some kind of control a network admin can have that would be harder for a stranger to obtain
    – JBallin
    Jun 30, 2017 at 20:17
  • Assume that a hacker set up the residential network and that another hacker (of equal ability) is a user of the coffee shop network
    – JBallin
    Jun 30, 2017 at 20:20
  • @JBallin How do you know that what you believe to be the access point of a coffee shop isn't actually an evil twin set up by a hacker? Or that a hacker has infiltrated the coffee shop and compromised their wifi network?
    – Philipp
    Jun 30, 2017 at 23:06

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