eduroam network characteristics
eduroam networks are provided by participating institutions locally and is their own responsibility. As a roaming consortium, eduroam defines minimal compliance rules on how hotspot deployments need to act like; you can think of this as a “franchise” system.
As a result, not all eduroam hotspots are identical. You can expect the following baseline configuration at eduroam hotspots:
- Use is free of charge.
- The wireless network is encrypted with WPA2/AES.
- Your username and password is exclusively validated with IEEE 802.1X as described above.
- The network gives you access to the general internet.
In Europe, a minimum number of services (“ports”) must be made available at the hotspot. The list includes sending and receiving email (encrpytedly and unencryptedly), browsing web pages (encrpytedly and unencryptedly), and access to a wide variety of Virtual Private Networking (VPN) solutions which can connect you back to your home institution in privacy. The full list of ports is available in section 6.3.3 “Specifications and Operational Requirements: Service Providers” (p.31+) of the European eduroam Service Definition.
Apart from that, you should consider every eduroam network as a “normal ISP” network. In particular, the WPA2/AES encryption only protects your traffic while it is in the air; as soon as it travels onwards onto the internet, your traffic is not encrypted any more unless you chose to use encrypted transfer protocols (e.g. browse with https:// instead of http:// ; or if you started a VPN connection).
If you do not choose to encrypt your traffic on your device, everybody on the internet may be able to see the content of your communication in clear-text; record it or create profiles from it. This is not eduroam-specific; it’s the way the internet works.
eduroam Service Providers are discouraged from inspecting traffic of their users; they should rather act as a “mere conduit” provider. It is however possible that some eduroam Service Providers choose to inspect or filter traffic (by using transparent web proxies).
eduroam hotspots world-wide
eduroam is a world-wide effort. Currently, eduroam Points of Presence are located on five continents.
eduroam Operations has prepared a world-wide map with all positions on all continents, please check out https://monitor.eduroam.org/map_service_loc.php.