WiFi Hotspots and Remote Desktop
Posted on 2006-03-29
I'd like an assesment of just how "safe" it is to use Remote Desktop at free public hotspots. (i.e., any "unsecured" wiFi network.)
I would assume that if you are using a standard WindowsXP notebook that is properly up-to-date with security patches, the act of connecting to the WiFi hotspot is, in and of itself, no more or less risky than simply connecting to some "unknown network" with an ethernet cable. From a security standpoint, this would be much like walking into any random office building and finding that their receptionist in the lobby hands you the end of a CAT-5 cable saying "feel free to connect to the internet while you are waiting." You'd be concerned that you have no idea what other workstations you are now visible to, or what infections they might have, or if they have a sniffer on the network, etc. but if your notebook was patched, just connecting is arguably not going to get you infected/compromised. (Feel free to correct me if you think my first assumption here is incorrect.)
The next question, of course, is that if the network is really (in the worst case scenario) a "poisoned hotspot" with a sniffer on it, how does thst impact the saftey of using Remote Desktop? I'm not asking anyone to answer a really broad question about the many different types of traffic that might be "sniffed" on a compromised WiFi network, just Remote Desktop.