How Secure are Personal Hotspot Connections from iPhone?

Mar 23, 2024 - 3 Comments

iPhone Personal Hotspot Security

The Personal Hotspot feature on iPhone turns your iPhone cellular connection into a wi-fi hotspot that other nearby devices and computers can use to access the internet. It’s one of those really great features available for iPhone that allows you to work from just about anywhere that you have a cellular connection, and can also be used as a backup internet connection if your primary service goes down. But have you ever wondered how secure an iPhone Personal Hotspot connection is? Is it more secure to use Personal Hotspot instead of the free coffee shop wi-fi?

With the reasonable concerns there are around internet security, it’s not unreasonable to ask how secure a Personal Hotspot connection is that’s created by the iPhone (or cellular iPad, for that matter).

iPhone Personal Hotspot is Secured with WPA3

If you use iPhone Personal Hotspot and you’re worried about security, there’s good news; all newer model iPhone and iOS versions use WPA3 for enhanced security.

This means as long as the iPhone is running iOS 15 or newer (and it almost certainly is, but you can always check what iOS version you are running in Settings > General > About), your iPhone Personal Hotspot feature is well-secured, using the newest WPA3 encryption standard for Wi-Fi.

WPA3 offers strong encryption, and protection against outside attacks by reducing repeated login attempts which are typical of brute force attacks, enhancing the security of the Wi-Fi Personal Hotspot feature.

Additionally, you, and anyone else connecting to the iPhone Personal Hotspot, will need to have the Personal Hotspot’s password to be able to access the feature and use the cellular connection. Because of the password requirement, one of the easiest ways to maximize your security is to simply use a strong and unique password or passphrase. You can change the Personal Hotspot password at any time in the Settings.

Should I Use Personal Hotspot on iPhone Instead of Joining Free Public Wi-Fi?

The iPhone Personal Hotspot is essentially a private, secured, wi-fi access point. The connection is secure, encrypted, and private.

Contrast that to free public wi-fi access points, which are by their very nature public, and may have any number of other users sharing the same connection. Some public wi-fi networks don’t even use passwords, or they use an unsecured Captive Portal, which means any unsecured data being transferred isn’t even encrypted and could be intercepted and read. Potential examples of this are open wi-fi networks at an airport, transport station, large retailer, hotel lobby, some coffee shops, cafes, and restaurants, etc.

Some free public wi-fi access points require a password to connect to, however, and those networks are therefore more secure, and more likely to be encrypted (with the exception of some Captive Portals, so take note if you encounter one). Examples of this are when you have to enter a password before being able to join a cafe wi-fi network, or if you only get a password for the wi-fi at the coffee shop if you buy something, or basically most wi-fi networks where you have to enter a password to join. These tend to be, but not always, more secure wi-fi networks, but you should check the wi-fi security encryption type if you can.

From the three choices, you can probably see why the iPhone Personal Hotspot is a more secure option. Not only is the security and encryption type guaranteed, but it’s most likely on you, or someone else you know, who is using the same wi-fi connection.

The Personal Hotspot may not be the fastest internet connection, since it’s dependent on the speed of the cellular network, but it is likely to be more secure than most public wi-fi networks. If you’re traveling, or using a Mac, iPad, PC, Switch, while on the road, and security is a consideration because you’re going to do something like online banking, use the Personal Hotspot feature.

Do you use Personal Hotspot on iPhone? Do you consider security ramifications of wi-fi networks and access points when you’re traveling? Share your thoughts in the comments.


Related articles:

Posted by: Jamie Cuevas in iPhone, Mac OS, Security, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Old Coot says:

    I wonder now how secure the latest iPhone 15 with the latest update and the news that the named and unnamed security agencies (big brother) have a piece of software that can bypass Apples Security.

  2. Paul says:

    I almost never use a personal hotspot, but I always make sure my VPN is running when I join a public wi-fi. Shouldn’t that be secure enough?

  3. Steve Goldstein says:

    What about using a VPN on the iPhone? I normally use my VPN every time I’m on a public network.

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