Can your email password be exposed on public wifi networks

CAN YOUR EMAIL PASSSWORD BE EXPOSED

Have you ever wondered if your email password can be exposed on public wifi networks ? This article explains if your email password can be exposed by hackers on public wifi networks.

1. You have connected to an airport wifi network with the password provided by the airport administration.

2. A hacker is also connected to the wifi network with the same password provided by the airport administration. The hacker has a software which enables him to capture all packets or communication on the specific wifi network. This software is typically a network analyzer like wireshark.

Case 1 – Web email like yahoo, gmail

You open a browser and type in the gmail page. You then provide your username and password to log into your account and you access your email. During this time, the hacker has already captured the communication between your PC and the gmail server, including the username and password. But can the hacker view this ?

When you are using web email, all communication is encrypted using SSL protocol. So the hacker, who although has the communication packets , cannot use it for viewing ,since it is in encrypted format. This make web emails safe on public wifi network. Thanks to the HTTPS protocol and underlying SSL protocol which is now used for a safe web experience.

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Case 2 – Using a email client like outlook

Email clients connect to the servers using appropriate protocols. If the outlook client is using an insecure protocol for connection like POP3, your password is sent in clear text. This exposes your password and the hacker can view it in clear text.


Mitigation Tips

If you are not aware of what protocol your outlook client is using, it is better to connect to the internet using your mobile data as a wifi hotspot. This would ensure that you are not connected to the public wifi and the communication cannot be monitored by hackers. Ensure that your outlook client uses secure protocols for connection with the server which would encrypt and transmit the data

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