Solved are usb wifi adapters secure ?


have been trying without success to search if the small usb type wifi adapters are secure.
the instructions do not state this, the only information referring to passwords, is when connecting to a secondary device, e.g. a wireless internet gateway.

when using the adapter other users devices are found, is it possible to snoop around my computer through the usb adapter, (not the gateway) without my knowledge, or are these usb adapters automatically secure.
confused about this as the only information about security deals with wireless routers, which only makes it more confusing.
had assumed any wireless device connected to a computer could be a possible entry point into the computers files.
came close to purchasing a second usb wifi adapter to test (from another computer) if it was secure, or if it was possible to create a connection between both computers without a password.

if it is possible to connect without a password, cant understand why this important information was not in the setup instructions.
the device is a netgear wna 1100 adapter, using vista sp2 home premium.

posted a query in another forum, the answer refereed to a router, but no clear answer whether or not the adapter needed to be password protected.

any clear advice would clear up the confusion.

My Computer


Destroyer of Tyranny
Vista Guru
A USB wifi adapter only allows you to connect to wifi networks. It basically functions like a normal network card in your average laptop, but transfers data through your USB port. With that in mind, the easiest way to answer your question is to say that it's just as secure as any laptop with a network card would be.

I think you're a little confused. Technically, the USB wifi adapter does not give you any inherent security. The security comes from whatever network you're connected to, and whatever firewall/antivirus program you have on your computer. So simply plugging this into your computer won't effect your security. Now, if you plug it in, and then use it to connect to the public wifi at a library of coffee shop, then yes, other people on the same wifi network may be able to get into your computer, and/or monitor your internet activity. But ONLY while you're connected to the same network as they are.

On the other hand, if you use it to connect to your home wifi secured with a password, then only other devices on your wifi will have potential access to your computer. As long as the network is secure, your computer should be too. Now, it's always possible that someone could manage to break your router's firewall, and launch an attack on your computer. But this is a very, very minimal risk you'll have to take no matter how or where you get online. So an additional firewall program on your computer adds another layer of security an attacker would have to break through to get into your computer. ZoneAlarm offers a great free firewall for download, if you don't already have one.

In summary, how secure your computer is when accessing wifi has very little to do with your USB adapter, and much more to do with your router, the strength of your wifi password, the encryption method, and what firewall programs are on your computer. Does that answer your question?

My Computer

System One

  • Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Inspiron 1545
    Intel Core 2 Duo T6400 @ 2.00 GHz
    DELL - 27d90219 Phoenix ROM BIOS PLUS Version 1.10 A05
    4 GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Mobile Intel(R) 4 Series Express Chipset Family
    Sound Card
    IDT High Definition Audio CODEC
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Generic PnP Monitor (DPMS), 15.3" (34cm x 19cm)
    Screen Resolution
    Hard Drives
    Internal 320 GB
    Portable 320 GB used for separate storage of media, plugged into USB port as needed.
    Single built in fan
    Touchpad, + Logitech wireless mouse (USB)
    Built in
    Internet Speed
    ~150 kilobytes/sec DL
    Other Info
    Usually have low HD free space left (<10 GB), often left on overnight. I really push its capabilities.