Can a laptop get a virus through a Wi-Fi network with connected infected machines without connecting to the network (just by being withing the reach of the network signal and sensing it)? And vise versa, if one protects its WiFi network with a strong password can a nearby infected device somehow pass a virus without breaking the password?

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It's extremely unlikely that merely being in the vicinity of a wireless network has any potential to "infect" a laptop. Viruses do not tend to spread through arbitrary network packets; a user would have to take some action (downloading and executing questionable software, opening a malicious email attachment, using a dangerous USB) to get the virus unless it is brute-forcing addresses to take advantage of some particularly severe unpatched remote-access vulnerability such as the one mentioned by @Steffen Ullrich in the comments.

The closest related "attack" I can recall: Denial-of-Service has happened in the past with iPhones (a format-string bug present in the processing of a certain SSID led to bricking of phones). [Source]


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