Does a Login Page on an Open Wi-Fi Hotspot Mean it’s a Secure Connection?

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Many hotels, airports, and other places with an open Wi-Fi hotspot display a page that I need to log in to or accept terms on before I can connect to the internet. Does that mean it’s a secure connection?

No. Absolutely not.

This is a critically important distinction to make, and it’s one I’m afraid many people misunderstand.

Read moreDoes a Login Page on an Open Wi-Fi Hotspot Mean it’s a Secure Connection?

Footnotes & references

1: An interstitial is a term commonly used to refer to the page displayed before the page you want when you click on a link. Most commonly it’s an advertisement, but the term applies to these situations as well. You try to go to askleo.com and you’re presented with the hotel/coffee shop “interstitial” page that requires you to accept terms to proceed.

2: I typically use a device that connects me to my mobile phone provider’s data plan. It can provide a hotspot. That hotspot uses WPA2 to secure the connection, which requires an actual password before you can connect and see anything.

Does Having a Publicly Visible Wi-Fi Password Add Security Compared to an Open Wi-Fi Hotspot?

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I handle the Wi-Fi hotspot for a library and have been using WPA2 with an openly distributed passphrase. Another library has no security whatsoever. Is there a greater risk using no security because for our library the passphrase is so openly available to possibly bad guys?

The short answer is absolutely!

Using WPA2 with a password – even a publicly visible one – adds significant levels of security beyond an open Wi-Fi hotspot. Yes, even if everybody in the room knows the password.

When you’ve got an open Wi-Fi hotspot, all of the information that’s being transmitted by each of the computers connected to that hotspot is being transmitted in the clear. That puts the onus of security on each individual computer user. That’s not necessarily a good assumption to make.

Read moreDoes Having a Publicly Visible Wi-Fi Password Add Security Compared to an Open Wi-Fi Hotspot?