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If I use free WiFi in a hotspot, can data be easily sniffed?

Let's say I am browsing an HTTP accessible web site (i.e. NOT HTTPS) , is the traffic encrypted through the WiFi connection?

In other words, is there "data privacy" functionality over WiFi regardless of higher layer protocols?

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marked as duplicate by Matthew Read May 4 '12 at 15:18

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

Similar to… . – Renan May 4 '12 at 14:45
See also: Security risks of open Wifi and What Android sync'd data is encrypted? which both have lots more on the security risks of open wifi – GAThrawn May 9 '12 at 13:07

Your traffic is encrypted if the routers setting allow it. This can be WEP, WPA, WPA2. However with all of these the key is known by everyone on the network so it is possible to decrypt the traffic.

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Basically, if the Wi-Fi connection has WPA/WPA2 security, no: even if the key is public each device has its own "channel".

But if the network is unsecured (or WEP, which amounts to the same thing, since it's easily broken), yes.

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Channel? I never heard about it this way. You mean that every device on the same network uses different radio frequency or? I never did packet capturing but I was under the impression that this can be done on any kind of network. – Richard Borcsik May 4 '12 at 15:08
Not a separate radio frequency, no. I presume Renan meant that different keys are used for each user (though I don't know the details of the protocols enough to confirm that). – mc0e Dec 24 '13 at 4:55

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