VPN @ Public WiFi

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Sparticu$, Oct 20, 2011.

  1. Sparticu$ macrumors member

    Dec 14, 2009
    Hey guys when you all use public/free wifi do you use VPN to secure your connection? Is it worth setting it up? Is it really secure?
  2. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    Depends on what type of VPN you use, how much you care, and how dedicated an attacker is.
  3. Hyper-X macrumors 6502a

    Jul 1, 2011
    Depends on what I'm doing determines whether I use VPN or not.

    Whether it's easy or not depends on your knowledge of how VPN works. For a home user it would involve 1 of 2 basic methods.

    The first would be to go with an online service, likely to be subscription based. You download a client and install it onto your machine and you enter the credentials into the client app according to that company's instructions.

    The second would be to setup a VPN server in your home. You can set it up many ways however it will involve more setting up and most people may get confused. The computer you take with you on the road (laptop) would be your client. That machine would have to have an app installed telling that machine where to find your VPN server.

    Then you'd have to setup your VPN server at home, it would have to be left powered on and not sleeping at any time. It would have to be running a VPN server app and you also will have to set it up as a proxy (this is where most people get confused, which I'll explain below).

    When you have everything setup properly, what happens is when you surf at Starbucks on your laptop, a secure/encrypted connection takes place between your laptop and your computer at home through the Starbucks WiFi. That way if people nearby are sniffing for packets, all they'll find is encrypted data which they will not likely know what to do with. As you can see, you're not using the Starbucks WiFi to access the internet, you're actually using it to communicate with your computer at home.

    The computer at home is your server, and its purpose is to allow you to surf the internet through that machine (which is cabled in via CAT5/6).

    Starbucks Laptop ---(encrypted data)---> Home PC ---(hard connection)---> Router/Cable Modem ---> Internet

    So you can see your PC at home is actually a proxy, a middle-man and you must set it up as such.

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