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 Post subject: Being Safe on an Unsecured Network?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2011 9:39 am 
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Joined: Sat Dec 06, 2008 11:00 pm
Posts: 37
I don't know much about networking, but I know a few basic things and I hope somebody here can fill in the blanks for me. Here we go:

1) I know one should not do anything sensitive on an unsecured network (i.e. Starbucks). Anyone else on that network can see what you do, right? For example, if I log in to my bank account at Starbucks, somebody else on that network could get my login info. Is this correct?

2) A program like Hotspot Shield is supposed to protect you from this. Does this really work?

3) What about a website that begins with https? This means it uses encryption. So, even on an unsecured network without Hotspot Shield, shouldn't my data should be safe?

4) My school offers a VPN login. If I enable this, am I protected in the same way that Hotspot Shield claims to protect me with it's VPN?


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 Post subject: Re: Being Safe on an Unsecured Network?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2011 7:54 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 06, 2008 4:48 pm
Posts: 728
1. Yes, it's possible that someone could be seeing all of your traffic on a public wireless network.

2. I've never used this program so I can't comment. The reviews I've seen are a mixed bag, half love it, half hate it.

3. Yes, encrypted traffic is safe, as long as ALL content for the page is encrypted and you trust the site's certificate (meaning it's verified by a reputable source and you don't get a dialog box asking you if it's legit).

4. Probably. But not every VPN is built the same, so I can't definitely say for certain.


That being said, nothing is perfect. So if you're accessing a service online that contains sensitive data, I'd still just wait until you get home.


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 Post subject: Re: Being Safe on an Unsecured Network?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2011 9:20 am 
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Joined: Sat Dec 06, 2008 11:00 pm
Posts: 37
Thanks Alan.

Yeah the only criticism I've seen of Hotspot Shield seems to revolve around the fact that it gives you ads. But what do people expect? It's free. Companies have to make money somehow.

I was hoping somebody would know how to check my school's VPN to see whether it is providing a secure connection.


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 Post subject: Re: Being Safe on an Unsecured Network?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2011 12:01 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2008 8:03 am
Posts: 98
Location: NYC
VPNs are probably the safest way when using unsecured networks. Remember your traffic and information is going through your school not starbucks. so how well do you just trust your school?

There is no 100% protection from unsecured and secured networks. Its about being user smart that makes the difference. Checking your banking information from a unsecure connection public spot like Starbucks not so smart. Checking it at home through a wired connection smart.

Being safe really comes down to the user in the end.


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 Post subject: Re: Being Safe on an Unsecured Network?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2011 4:31 pm 
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Joined: Wed Sep 10, 2008 3:33 pm
Posts: 30
Location: Covington, La.
"Remember your traffic and information is going through your school not starbucks"

This is absolutely false.

There are pro's and con's to everything.

Using Starbucks would look like this technically.

YOU -> STARBUCKS Network -> Internet

Using Starbucks to reach your schools VPN would look like this.

YOU -> Starbucks Network -> Internet -> VPN Device at school -> School Network -> Internet

So yes you are encrypting your traffic but you doubled what you sent it through.


Ultimately there are 2 things to worry about when using any network but more so a public one. That would be someone getting your data as you send it or someone getting into your machine while you are on that network.

I would argue the second case is often times worse as that is access to everything not just what you are transmitting. VPN does not help much in that case as that just protects what is being sent.

I think the biggest single help is a personal firewall. There are several free ones that are excellent (I prefer Comodo) and this will give you control over what comes into your machine as well as what leaves it... Often times there is a lot more of both than you realize.

Of course best case scenario is to use a firewall and a good VPN client.


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