Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Using any shared internet by definition "shares" it: other users on the service will be able to see what you are doing on the connection. Extra security steps may be necessary.

Hi, Leo. My neighbor has a wireless router device and he doesn't mind if I use my laptop to connect to the internet on that network. He asked for my laptop and made some wireless connections to the device which I couldn't understand. Anyway, does this make it possible for him to view and monitor my internet traffic, the websites I visit, or the messages I send and receive? I mean, if he is the owner of the device and I was connected to the internet using his wireless network, would it make it possible for him to do so?

In this excerpt from Answercast #7, I look at the ramifications of sharing an internet connection with a neighbor and some steps you can take to protect yourself.

Shared networks are shared

The short answer: "Absolutely yes. He can."

What you need to do is treat this internet connection as if you were in an open WiFi hotspot. Or better yet, a hotel. There's an article I've got, "Can your ISP see everything you do,"(I think it's called).

The short answer is, "Absolutely!" Whoever provides you with your internet connection can monitor all of the traffic that goes across your use of that connection. So what that means is, if you don't truly trust the provider of your internet connection, you need to take steps to make sure that your data is encrypted, and otherwise secure.

It's like a wireless hotspot

Much like we talk about in a wireless hotspot, you want to make sure that the connections you make to your mail services or to websites (i.e. your banking websites) are all https or they are encrypted. You might even consider signing up for VPN service, which would encrypt all of your traffic across this wireless connection, and across your neighbor's router, to his internet connection, and all the way to the provider of the VPN service. Only there would it be decrypted and sent on to its final destination.

A lot of times, people do this because they can't afford their own internet service. While it's nice to share like this, if you don't absolutely trust your neighbor (the person who's giving you the internet service), I think you will want to be re-thinking whether or not you want to use it.

A little bit of damage can cost you a lot more than an ongoing internet connection of your own.

Next - Can my ISP help me prove I didn't post comments to a forum after I was hacked?

Article C5178 - April 7, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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