An elderly relative has just moved into in a nursing home that has 1 WiFi network which is used by all staff, residents, and guests. There is no password: You just select the WiFi and you are connected. Prior to moving into the nursing home, my relative would use AirPlay to stream subscription content from an iPad app to a TV (via AppleTV), but that was on a WiFi network that no one else could use.

Is it safe to do this on an essentially open WiFi network? If not, what are the security risks? The iPad and AppleTV are both running up-to-date versions of the OS.

I can't think of any practical alternative; in particular, my relative was not able to learn how to use a smart TV because it was too complex.

Edit: Sorry, I wasn't as clear as I could have been. My concern is less with the iPad end than with AppleTV, i.e., the ability to buy/rent things from it, the ability to send unwanted content to it, etc. I think that these are unlikely given it would have the same AppleID as the iPad, but have never used one on an open network before.

3 Answers 3


On the AppleTV set up a pin so that people won’t accidentally start streaming if they can’t see the actual TV. One good thing, AirPlay will work even if you’re not on WiFi so it will negotiate and work and go peer to peer if that’s better for image quality in my experience.

The pin is nice, since you can have friends over and let them share photos too, but locking down with a secure AppleID on both devices is the most private since no one will even see the device advertise on the network.

We host AppleTV on guest networks and in common spaces in my apartment and it works very well - AppleTV is easy to wipe and update too, so that helps with ongoing security.


Make sure the iPad is not jailbroken. Otherwise, on an open WiFi network, an attacker may be able to ssh in to the iPad and do all kinds of nasty things.


Unless there are known security flaws in Airplay, I would think that this is a relatively low risk activity. If you really feel uneasy about it though, you should be able to negate the security risks of using unprotected wi-fi by utilizing private VPN software. One example is the mozilla VPN:


  • The VPN would need to be between the iPad and TV in this case? I suppose setting it up on the TV could be a problem? Dec 9, 2021 at 4:09
  • A VPN secures the traffic between your iPad and a jumping-off point. Often, for businesses or schools that jumping off point is an internal company network. In your case it might be a random location somewhere around the country, from which your traffic will continue on to Apple Music or wherever it is that "Airplay" gets its data. Dec 9, 2021 at 18:21
  • How would you set this up on AppleTV and iPad in a public Wi-Fi setting like described?
    – bmike
    Dec 9, 2021 at 19:57
  • Read the whole page that I provided, especially the FAQs, and also this page: mozilla.org/en-US/products/vpn/more/when-to-use-a-vpn Dec 9, 2021 at 20:23
  • 1
    I see nothing about the FireFox VPN that applies to an AppleTV - I’ve heard and read good things about the service, but this answer might do better on a question asking for a VPN for a computer. If you might edit your answer to quote the section of the VPN guide that applies here, others might learn in addition to myself.
    – bmike
    Dec 11, 2021 at 1:28

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