Android Guy Weekly: Is Cellular More Secure than WiFi?

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As smartphones are getting faster, we’re able to do more with them. In fact, many of us are phasing out the use of traditional computers for their miniature cousins in our pockets. Smartphones and tablets aren’t wired down to a network jack, they’re connected over the air. Since it’s fairly likely that you’ll send sensitive information at one point or another (passwords, back account numbers, etc.), it’s probably a good time to ask ourselves which network technology is more secure: cellular or WiFi?

Network Technologies

WiFi is built primarily one one set of protocols. Virtually every router, access point, and wireless device is capable of using most (if not all) of them. The WiFi standards are everywhere, and are very easily accessible, making WiFi an easier target than cellular.

Cellular networks are varied — not only in technologies but in frequencies as well. What’s more they’re usually different depending on where you are around the world. Although “obscurity” isn’t “security” per se, cellular probably beats out WiFi in this category.

Availability

My WiFi bubble only reaches a few hundred feet away from my router. If you want to try and hack into it you’ve got to be inside that bubble — and I’ll probably notice the van with the tinted windows sitting on the corner.

The cell that I’m connected to is over a mile away. Theoretically, someone with the right equipment could hack into me from anywhere inside that bubble. Since cell towers are interconnected it’s plausible (though highly unlikely) that I could be hacked by someone a few cells away.

Social Engineering

Your home WiFi bubble is probably pretty safe. You know it, you trust it, it doesn’t throw a very wide signal. What about other WiFi access points, like at school, work, or the local coffee shop?

In these locations, the bigger problem isn’t being hacked — it’s being tricked.

Let’s say you go to the local coffee shop, they have free WiFi. When you pull out your phone, tablet, or laptop you see two access points: JoesCoffee and JoesCoffeeWiFi. Which one do you connect to? Does it matter?

In this scenario one is the real WAP, the other is rogue. The rogue WAP will still let you get on the ‘net, but it will record your keystrokes and log your passwords as you go. Do you know which one is “safe” and which one isn’t? Neither do I, and that’s the problem.

That’s also my argument for why cellular data is more secure than WiFi. Do you agree? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below!

And don’t forget to tell your friends about The Android Guy Weekly!

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About The Author
Joe Levi
Joe graduated from Weber State University with two degrees in Information Systems and Technologies. He has carried mobile devices with him for more than a decade, including Apple's Newton, Microsoft's Handheld and Palm Sized PCs, and is Pocketnow's "Android Guy".By day you'll find Joe coding web pages, tweaking for SEO, and leveraging social media to spread the word. By night you'll probably find him writing technology and "prepping" articles, as well as shooting video.Read more about Joe Levi here.