Public WiFi question

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Brian Tillman
Sep 23, 2020
I thought I read that if there is a publicly-available WiFi access point, that as long as it has a password, even if the password is known to everyone, that the individual connections to the access point are encrypted so it is safe to use. Is this true or not?
Everyone connected to a WiFi AP is on the same network. Encryption between devices in the same network does not rely on the AP password. Anything exposed inside that network is subject to being exploited.

The WiFi password mostly protects users inside that network from external agents.
Actually, I believe that if the system is using WPA2, each session has it's own special key. So, that might be secure. But, if you're using an older encryption, what you do might be visible to all. I would recommend using a VPN any time you're in public.

It's all a question of trust of the AP. You will never know if they have client isolation or what the AP is actually doing so if you connect, it would be recommended to use a VPN and if you're really careful, go into flight mode before you do so as iOS, for example, will persist certain connections outside the VPN for a period of time.

Then the question of trust of your VPN service. You could run up your own VPN if you are capable but most services like StrongVPN, ExpressVPN and so on will give you more trust and security than some random wireless network.

You could also not connect to the Wifi unless you really need to. If you're like me, with unlimited data in most countries I will ever visit (if I could :D), Wifi is not so important unless I have no service at the time.