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I have lost my modem to use the internet and I am starting university next week. There is Wi-Fi available to the students in the university, but I'm worried about the risk of using it.

Can other good computer students using the same Wi-Fi hack and see what I am using? If there is a risk, what should I avoid using? Is using Facebook risky? (My Facebook account is very confidential for me, I don't want anyone to see anything in it.)

Also, am I at risk when entering credit card information when I have to buy something online over Wi-Fi? I'm not worried about using it to download movies, etc., but even while using for that does anyone have access to my computer?

marked as duplicate by TildalWave, Xander, Gilles, Mark, Adi Aug 17 '14 at 8:23

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Yes there is always the risk of some level of snooping happening on a public WiFi network like that.

You could in actual fact be connected to a rouge access point that is impersonating the university WiFi. There are tools like the WiFi Pineapple and even open source projects like Snoopy that can be run on a Raspberry Pi to create these rouge access points. Both of these tools could easily be run by "other good computer students".

If you are not comfortable with that risk and you must access resources that you consider very confidential, I'd advise you to use a VPN service (these usually have small subscription fee. Here and here and here are examples) in order hide your information from any potential snoopers by sending it through an encrypted tunnel.

Even if you do that you must still make sure that when you access sites like Facebook or Paypal, the sites have valid SSL certificates by looking for the "Green Address Bar" and "Padlock" icons and that these certificates are signed by a trusted certificate authority. The point of this is to make sure you are connecting to the real facebook site and not a fake facebook login page served from the rouge access point you could be connected to.

The main risk here is that of your traffic being intercepted but it can extend to someone installing malware on your computer by directing you to click on some malicious link. This malware can then get up to all kinds of nasty things on your computer, including opening up some sort of remote access to your computer.

If you follow the suggestion above it should be safe to use the university WiFi.

  • Lets say I connect to the university wifi , and then disconnects it and use my own internet in lets say a month when I buy a new modem. If some hacker has hacked into my computer or put some virus in my computer, will he be able to access things in my computer when I start using my modem too ? Is there that risk? That once I stop using the public wifi, will I be still affected by the hacker? – Tharindu Ranatunga Aug 16 '14 at 10:31
  • Yes. If your computer has already been compromised it doesn't matter how it's connected to the internet but that it is connected to the internet at all. – ilikebeets Aug 16 '14 at 10:48

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