VPN or something for public WiFi?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by majordude, Sep 11, 2012.

  1. majordude macrumors 68020

    majordude

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2007
    Location:
    Hootersville
    #1
    I have a MacBook but I always use it at home or work... I've heard that it's dangerous to use a computer on public networks.

    What can I do to protect myself?
     
  2. southerndoc macrumors 65816

    southerndoc

    Joined:
    May 15, 2006
    Location:
    USA
    #2
    I use an OpenVPN from strongvpn.com. You can do PPTP if you don't need ultimate security and you don't go through a corporate WiFi. Open VPN is a little more expensive, but it's more reliable and secure.

    I use Viscosity as my VPN software. Once I connect to WiFi, I just click the padlock icon and choose connect. All traffic is then encrypted and routed through the VPN.

    Strongvpn.com doesn't charge for data bandwidth. (I'm not affiliated with them.)
     
  3. takeshi74 macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2011
    #3
    Depends on what you're specifically trying to protect. Why are you thinking that a VPN is what you need?
     
  4. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2009
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #4
    You are protecting yourself from identity theft. On a public network... any other computer is capable of running the FireSheep firefox plug-in and assume your identity on any site you are logged into that does not use htpps connections. Most other sites use a cookie that validates your login session... and that cookie is sent in the clear. Then anyone running FS can click on your name... and the program that you are running and they assume your identity in whatever site you are surfing. So for example... they can change your email settings to automatically forward all your new incoming email to themselves... or other types of cyber theft.

    Many sites are now switching to htpps for all pages (due to FS)... so I guess the FS "public service" distribution is performing its intended purpose. Still... this change is slow in coming.

    I personally will not attach to any public hotspot unless I use a VPN. I personally subscribe to Witopia.com... as they got great reviews (especially for the price) when I was alerted to the threats of FS.

    /Jim
     
  5. BrianBaughn macrumors 601

    BrianBaughn

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2011
    Location:
    Baltimore, Maryland
    #5
    You could set up a VPN server on your home computer...I've done that. But I also subscribe to iVPN.net as they're one of the most affordable.

    Some public networks are set up in a way that limits VPN usage or blocks it completely.
     
  6. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2009
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #6
    I have not recently found many public hot spots that block VPN, but they do exist. I mostly connect through business hotels that cater to corporate travelers... so cutting off VPN access would kill their business.

    If I was presented with a public network that blocked VPN, then I would use my iPhone as a hotspot. I would not do anything on a public wifi network without engaging my VPN first.

    BTW: Just because a network may have a WPA2 code to access the network... that does not protect you. Anyone with the code on the network can sidekick your computer.

    /Jim
     

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