Unsecured Wi-Fi – Protect Your Privacy

Hello from the club at the Grand Hyatt in Melbourne!

My view of the Melbourne CBD as I blog today

My view of the Melbourne CBD as I blog today

Just a quick update today. Included with the cost of our room here at the Grand Hyatt, there is also free WiFi available in the club. Of course, with such an arrangement the WiFi is unsecured and unencrypted which can be a concern as all of your non-secured webpage and email traffic can be seen by anyone who wants to go sniffing for it.

I’ve chosen to bypass the whole issue by using my 3G dongle but in these situations, you should also consider using a virtual private network (VPN) connection to secure your data. A VPN encrypts your connection and protects it from being casually perused by others on your local network.

I’ve setup my Windows Home Server at home as a VPN server so I know where my traffic is going as well as avoid having to pay for a VPN service that may impose some sort of bandwidth or quota on the connnection.

There are free services such as Tor (The Onion Router) that provide the same function but rely on “onion routers” maintained by others to make it all work plus the fact that you are trusting them not to do anything funny with your data once it is decrypted on their machine.

There are also paid services like StrongVPN that provide advantages of selecting the location of VPN endpoint in particular countries depending on your subscription. This can be handy if you want to access services that have IP geolocation restrictions for anything other than the IP addresses in the same country or region. However, you are placing trust in someone else which can counteract the “trust no-one” principle of security.

Of course, if you are just browsing for the news and weather and you don’t mind others potentially seeing your traffic then that’s up to you but I believe it can’t hurt to protect yourself.

1 comment

3 pings

    • Sal on December 9, 2011 at 01:18
    • Reply

    I always use this when in public networks: http://www.sunvpn.com/.

    It` a OpenVPN service that encrypts all your traffic. Firesheep can`t read your session if you encrypt the traffic.

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