Several times a week, we are asked this exact question – If I am using someone else’s WiFi, can they see my search history, read my email or otherwise monitor my activity?
Simply put- unless they are extraordinarily gifted tech geniuses, not really. In other words, they can see that you are connected to their WiFi and can see the length of connection but your device’s anti-virus and other firewall programs will prevent them from accessing your desk/lap tops hard drive and other devices’ internal and cloud storage.
That said, if you are up against a very savvy tech thief, (the types that sit outside hotels and passively offer free connection bait – usually ones that looks very similar in name to the hotel’s WiFi, e.g. MarriottGuest1 rather than MarriottGuest), bide these steps (added to by our friends over at xqiz.it :
1) Most importantly, use HTTPS.
2) You should use non-logging DNS servers (hint: NOT Google’s DNS servers).
(At this point, in the US, you are reasonably well protected from someone doing a man-in-the-middle read of your communication. Unless you know how to manually manage your certs, you’re never safe in other countries, particularly places like China and any of the former Soviet states, where the governments tend to have access to the certificates that the local cert authorities provide for encryption and signature validation.)
3) Java and Flash must both be disabled. Failing to disable these allows local code to go around the settings you use from above. (Little known industry secret: Most sites that use Flash use small pieces of invisible Flash content to track you.)
4) Do not use Chrome. Its primary purpose is to de-anonymize you so that Google can track you completely.
5) Use the private surfing option in your browser (preferably Firefox) to reduce the chance that your browser fingerprint is discernible (unique/identifiable) by the server.
Our advice? Use common sense- if in public, be very careful; if in private, know your source.
BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.