Is Karma MiFi Sharing Safe?

by Timothy J Rothermel
(SF, CA)

I live in SF, and I am intrigued by the Karma MiFi sharing idea.


I became aware of Karma just moments ago when looking over your list of MiFi providers and plans. Let me note that although this is the first time I have left a comment, I have been using your PWG site for years. It is my bible before I make any prepaid device or plan purchases.

So I guess I probably have seen Karma on the list before and immediately dismissed it as a viable option for me because of security concerns with the whole sharing thing.

I have 2 questions that I am hoping someone or you can answer for me, as I am seriously considering taking the KARMA plunge.

First question is: Do you have any numbers on just how many people are using and connecting through Karma sharing. I am surprised that I HAVE NEVER HEARD ANYTHING ABOUT IT SINCE I LIVE IN TECH SAVVY SF CA, which is why I am asking.

Secondly: Are there any additional security concerns allowing strangers to use my connection?

I appreciate any info you or your readers might have about this. Thank You.

Comments for Is Karma MiFi Sharing Safe?

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Feb 23, 2017
I've Used iPass
by: PrepaidWirelessGuy

...and haven't had any good experiences with it. Despite setting the notifications to OFF, I constantly get notices on my Android phone that an iPass network is available, which is highly annoying.

Also, on airplanes, where I would make good use of it, not once has it been able to authenticate. It was a complete waste of time, and a big battery drain trying to continually authenticate.

Lastly, there are so many free WiFi networks available now, that I'm not sure what value iPass really adds other than to automatically log you in. That certainly does save a step or two, however, generally speaking, I want to control what networks I'm using. Especially since I have sufficient data in my plan, and 4G is plenty fast enough, I don't necessarily seek out WiFi hotspots as much as I used to.

If security is a concern, using a personal VPN can address that. Anyway, as you noted, iPass is certainly an option for people to consider!

Feb 23, 2017
Security on Unsecure Public Networks
by: Michael

There is a nationwide program available to make it possible to securely attach to a public network without having to sign into each one separately. The plan is called iPass and there are already apps for it.

Its goal is to interconnect all the free networks in the country. You need to sign into one network, e.g. Spectrum, and then you get free unlimited access to thousands of Spectrum hotspots, Starbucks, airports, etc. Then instead of these networks being unsecured public networks, they become a secured public network. You even are able to log onto them automatically when you are within range.

I tried it and I must say I was underwhelmed. It is a good idea, but I am not sure that it is ready for prime-time. But it is something to look for in the future.

Aug 13, 2015
Karma Go
by: Amanda J. Byerly

I have never ever heard about this Karma sharing possibility... after reading the question I googled to learn more about it.. and what I've found is this is very safe as no one sees my browsing history when sharing; if someone connects to my Karma, I got an email about this situation etc...very cool stuff!

Jan 27, 2014
Karma Security - Part 1
by: PrepaidWirelessGuy

Thank you for the great questions! Also, it’s great to hear that you’re a regular visitor to the site; I love hearing from people who are finding the information useful. It’s a lot of work to grow and maintain, so hearing feedback like this is always encouraging; thank you!

In terms of your first question, unfortunately, I don’t have any data around the number of people who are sharing Karma connections. I would think that’s it’s still fairly low. I say that because I expect that when there are people around who may want to use it (aside from friends and family), they’re probably in a location like Starbucks, McDonalds, malls, airports, etc., that already provide free access. That said, I’ve forwarded this post to Karma to see if they might respond with some actual figures, or at least some kind of scale to provide some perspective. Even if they respond, I expect this data point would be considered confidential, and they wouldn’t share it anyway…

In terms of security, this is an excellent question, and something that everyone should be thinking about in general. Think about it this way… It’s no less safe than using a Starbucks, or any other public, connection. So the real question then becomes, how safe are public connections in general?

Personally, I’m never really that concerned, although I don’t tend to use public connections very often, or for long periods of time as you would be more likely to do if you’re using your Karma hotspot regularly in public places. If I’m using email, banking sites, or any other sites that contain personal or sensitive information, they’re almost always https connections, which means that they’re secure, regardless of what connection you’re using to access the internet. In other words, no one can intercept your data even if they’re sharing the same Internet connection.

Jan 27, 2014
Karma Security - Part 2
by: PrepaidWirelessGuy

Is there more inherent risk than a secured network that no one else can access without a password? Sure, of course. Karma actually addresses these concerns in a useful FAQ page from their site. Go to https://yourkarma.com/help, and scroll to the Privacy & Security section. They offer some very helpful information (ex. https), as well as provide a link to a site that offers free plugins for popular Internet browsers that forces https (i.e. secure) connections on sites that are not already https enabled.

Personally, I would be using Karma if they had sufficient coverage. At present their modems are only 4G, which is not available in my area. In addition, even if they did have coverage, I require truly nationwide coverage to feel as though a mobile connection can be useful. You may want to check out FreedomPop, which is a similar service, but offers modems that are backwards compatible to 3G, meaning that where you don’t have 4G coverage, you’ll have nationwide coverage no matter what. Of course, the plans for 3G/4G modems are priced differently, so they may or may not meet your needs.

In terms of security, if Karma had the coverage I require, I personally wouldn’t worry about security. I would just take the normal precautions that we should all be taking regardless.

I hope this helps!

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