When connecting to a unknown public hotspot, I know that the data transmitted can be captured and, if unencrypted, easily analyzed. But that's not the question here.

I want to know whether the information saved on the computers (company computers running Windows 7 - 8 or some Linux installations, some smartphones, Androids and iPhones), which is not being transmitted, is also at risk? Can a computer be cracked just because it's connected to the hotspot?

If the answer is yes, what would be an appropriate security policy to deal with it? Prohibiting connecting would be a more extreme measure, is there anything else?

1 Answer 1


As long as the user connects as a public network, there isn't any more connection connecting to an open WiFi network than there is connecting to an unknown wired connection. If the user says it is a private or work network, then a lot more issues can occur.

Ultimately, it is the job of a firewall to prevent access to a system when it is attached to a network and a well configured firewall should prevent an issue when attaching. Exactly how you handle that configuration is significantly more complicated.

The trick comes down to what services the computer makes available when connecting to a network. Services like remote desktop, file and printer sharing, telnet, or whatever services might be on the system may be running. If they are, then any system that can connect to the computer will be able to try to access them.

Disabling those services or firewalling the system prevents that, but you need to make sure you don't block necessary services while dealing with the unwanted services.

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