It amazes me that more people are not aware that using wireless hotspots for PC connections is fraught with danger. More and more people considering retirement are visiting Panama as well as other Latin American countries and bringing their laptops with them to communicate back home. When they find a place that provides a wireless connection, they will use that as opposed to directly connecting via LAN because it is more convenient.
The problem is that the wireless protocol does not provide the same level of security. I hear them say, it is not a problem because their connection is using encryption. That is probably true, but that doesn’t make it a secure transfer of information. The reason it is not secure is that when you establish the connection between your PC and the wireless hub, the keys for the encryption are sent in the clear. Therefore if a cyber bandit wants to look at your information all he has to have is a Linux PC with some free software to receive the keys as you connect and then he can de-encrypt your messages and snoop around your PC. If you connect to sites and send passwords, he knows your logon and passwords. If you send credit card information he knows that. Any information you send is not secure. And if you haven’t set up your PC correctly, he can look at all the files on your PC as well.
Until the standards committee for the wireless protocol changes the protocol, wireless is not a safe environment. I have stayed at La Vía Láctea in Boquete and it advertises that it provides wireless connection to the Internet. Not only that but they don’t even set it up with encryption. I advised them that they were providing a non-secure connection medium for their clients and should advise the clients to that effect so the clients could take appropriate action. When I was told it was secure, I provided them a URL with all the information showing why it wasn’t secure and asked that at minimum they activate encryption to make it a little more secure. They said it complicated the connection too much for the clients.
If you use a wireless connection in a hotspot for your PC and you read this, you have now been warned.