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dbixby
03-01-2009, 11:15 AM
How secure is Airport on my MacBook (OSX 10.5.6) if I use it on a public wireless network provided by libraries, etc? I need to make make banking transactions away from home and am concerned about people hacking my passwords or accessing my accounts. Are there precautions I need to take?

I've done a number of internet searches on this topic and I cannot find any basic discusions on it. Everyone I talk to says just don't worry about it but I don't find that to be a very convincing argument.

matthewclower
03-01-2009, 12:12 PM
Be sure to use secure transactions https and keep your firewall on (close any ports that you aren't using while on a public network) System Preferences->Sharing

Unless you believe that there is some reason that you are being targeted specifically, you probably run a relatively low risk as long as you aren't "wide open". Nobody is going to accidentally "spy" on your activity, so if you're worried, also try to keep your activities private -- sit where people can't see your screen and don't tell anyone "I'm doing online banking".

The reason that most people say "don't worry about it" is that what you are describing doesn't happen very often at all. Those activities are based on effort/reward/potential consequences. In most countries the consequences that you would incur after "stealing" a random person's bank information in that way severely outweigh the gain after the effort it would take to accomplish that feat.

dbixby
03-01-2009, 12:51 PM
Assuming that I have done all you suggested, can my transmission be hacked?

matthewclower
03-01-2009, 01:22 PM
Absolutely. Nothing is totally secure when you introduce networking and especially wireless networking. The point is that most people wouldn't know the first thing about how to "hack" your connection and to those that do it wouldn't be worth it to do it in the first place, especially without specific knowledge that what you are doing is valuable to them in some significant way.

You can never get to a zero-risk environment, but the risk is so low that it might as well be zero.