Computer Security & Viruses/Wifi security


We are typically advised not to go on unsecured Wifi that you find everywhere from local fast food places to airports and hotels.  I always use my own hotspot that requires my password, however I am curious about something.  If I did go on an unsecured Wifi network, who actually could actually see what I'm typing etc.?  Is it the administrator of the network or is it a hacker somewhere?  And if a hacker, does he/she have to be somewhere close, or since everything goes over the internet, can that person be just about anywhere?  Also, how does this hacker actually access my signal and read it?

Anyone, not just the administrator of the network, who is within range of an unsecured WiFi network could grab data passing though it. The problem is defining what is "within range." Some hackers use an antenna that can pick up WiFi signals from hundreds of yards or more distant.

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Carolyn Meinel


I cover Windows, Linux, TCP/IP and Ethernet security questions. I do not cover Mac, smart phones, or other networking issues.


Books by Carolyn Meinel: wrote a chapter for The Hacking of America book (see My article Code Red for the Web for Scientific American was reprinted in the book Best American Science Writing 2002 (see My book The Happy Hacker: A Guide to Mostly Harmless Hacking is now in 4th edition with a Japanese edition (see


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MS, Industrial Engineering, The University of Arizona Took a course in computer forensics at the University of Texas at Austin/

Past/Present Clients
DARPA, SAIC, Palmer Labs

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