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How do you stay safe on public WiFi?

 

by @skatkov | 6yr  | 27 comments

Weโ€™ve seen some โ€˜coffee-spot listsโ€™ websites popping in, a lot of them consider wifi signal quality, some of them measure internet speeds. But i didnโ€™t see nobody considering Wifi AP safety.

If we consider co-working spaces, we would think that it should be safe to use internet there. But coffee shop are a different deal, especially while traveling in less touristy places. I would like to encourage community to gather a โ€˜Digital Nomad wifi access point safety checklistโ€™.

Doing work an a road we should consider safety of our computer. Itโ€™s not just a matter of your personal data, usually clients and company could be involved. I really hope everyone uses secure connection at least over the VPN while you guys are working.

There are very easy measures to avoid โ€˜men-in-the-middleโ€™ attacks and other nastyness. Lets list all the checks we can run against Access Point to verify it security at some level.

Iโ€™ll start:
โ€“ Go to access point login screen and verify that itโ€™s impossible to login with default passwords.
โ€“ Donโ€™t use wifi with WEP!

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@mule5 | 4yr

Opera has a free VPN for android devices/Opera.
There are a number of VPN services, we like privateinternetaccess.com, use it on our home router for full house coverage, use it on android/mobile for coverage, as well as on the laptop when out. Many end points and great speed/service. I think itโ€™s $40 or so a year, well worth it.
If you are just looking at mobile devices, try operaโ€™s free vpn first, itโ€™s nice, easy to use, and great. If you need more end points or no logs, completely private, try privateinternetaccess.com. There are other paid vpn services, but I donโ€™t have first hand experience with them.

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@trevor | 4yr

If you donโ€™t mind spending a bit on security you could consider: Tiny Hardware Firewall VPN.
http://www.tinyhardwarefirewall.com/

This costs $95USD/year (and is extra hardware), but is a very good solution for protecting your internet habits.

Some of the benefits are: it connects to TOR from the firewall and the access point can be shared with other devices/friends. On the down side beginners will struggle to get the most out of this device, and VPN selection is limited.

Here is a review on it by the Twit people:
http://www.tinyhardwarefirewall.com/reviews/

Also note the nothing is completely secure. Here is an interesting article on how Carnegie Melon University was hired by the FBI to crack TOR.

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@henri2398 | 4yr

We use Wi-Fi, short for wireless fidelity, everywhere and on many devices to connect to the Internet over the air instead of through a physical cable. Wi-Fi gives us more freedom and power,but not without risk.

There are several hackers and cyber criminals looking for unsecured network so that they can hack oneโ€™s personal information. So what you must do? Here find out - Top 10 Best Ways to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks

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@oskar | 4yr

The best way to stay safe: Linux + local Sim card.

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@aya_elsawy | 5yr

I donโ€™t know really, there is no way out of a public wifi! you always catch a virus or a trojan or anything that will harm your device!!!

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@jb510 | 5yr

For the last few months Iโ€™ve been using GetCloak for OSX/iOS and I freaking love it. Itโ€™s cheap, automatically enables itself when necessary, is fast and โ€œjust worksโ€ all over the world.

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@don_lee | 6yr

I use VPN (Hotspot Shield) and SSH tunnelling to my server.

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@tprophet | 6yr

Look, Iโ€™d be happy to set up a VPN service and sell you guys VPNs if I thought it would actually be helpful for most people. But most people donโ€™t need one for most things. Hereโ€™s why:

You should be using SSL/TLS to secure your email. Do this anyway, not just when youโ€™re traveling. Gmail does this automatically.

Online banking and any important account you have is all secured by
SSL anyway. So, as long as youโ€™re cognizant about man in the
middle attacks and donโ€™t ignore security warnings from your browser,
youโ€™re OK.

Google uses SSL by default. So your searches and results are
encrypted.

Facebook uses SSL by default. So your traffic is encrypted.

Twitter uses SSL by default. So your traffic is encrypted.

If you have Google Voice, two factor authentication is easy to
implement on most services that are especially sensitive. So, you
should implement it.

If there is enough demand, I will start a service called NomadVPN for people. However, I donโ€™t think the scenario is โ€œprotect your stuff from bad people eavesdropping on WiFi.โ€ Itโ€™s more like โ€œget around whatever the Thai army has decided to block this week.โ€

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@grum | 6yr

Except people donโ€™t just sit on twitter, facebook and gmail. They actually use the internet and not all of us are based in Thailand.
Hijacking SSL protected sessions is a very real thing and regardless of the security on the major sites, people are still dumb and use the same password or recovery phrase on other sites. VPNs are simply a layer of added security that will deter scripted attacks on public wifi networks.
VPNs are cheap, fast and are available from thousands of different places. If youโ€™re not clued into the security of your own laptop, it wouldnโ€™t hurt to work under an added layer of security for a couple of dollars a year.

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@danielgenser | 6yr

@zakerving This just came through my RSS reader today. Havenโ€™t read through it yet, but planning to. Seems like a good guide to practical security: http://www.decentsecurity.com/

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@bryce | 6yr

Another recommendation for Get Cloak. Itโ€™s very easy to use, which is nice.

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@grum | 6yr

Some people say that being paranoid about security whilst traveling is more trouble than its worth. Iโ€™ve had my identity stolen 4 times over the last two decades and right now Iโ€™m sitting in a cafe and noticed that someone here is scanning my ports in waves.

If a location has crap internet and VPN-ing is near impossible, they just donโ€™t get my patronage and Iโ€™ll tell them politely. On the flip side, if theyโ€™ve got good internet, Iโ€™ll buy more from their menu and thank them for the speeds. On top of this, if the venue is one that encourages people to use their internet, Iโ€™ll leave a foursquare/yelp review including the internet quality.

The argument is that some countries will have internet so bad that VPNing is impossible - the likelihood of me working in those countries will be zero so the argument shouldnโ€™t apply to most nomads.

The odds are low that youโ€™ll get hit by a hacker whilst on the road - but when you do, its a huge hassle to sort out your life when youโ€™re in an unfamiliar country.

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@grum | 6yr

@zakerving I donโ€™t really have any resources off hand - havenโ€™t really needed to look at the basic stuff for decades. The best option is just to be cautious and donโ€™t do anything stupid. As mentioned, VPNs are the best course of action. Next is to not install anything suspicious or visit suspicious websites. That means no computer piracy. Ever. Change your passwords regularly. Have two-factor authentication on anything that allows it. Use your operating systemโ€™s firewall. Make sure your software is up-to-date. Always check if that lock thing on your web browser shows that secure sites are really secure.

If you really want to learn up on this kind of stuff, check out something like Udemy - there are a bunch of courses that touch on this subject. I canโ€™t recommend one over another though.

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@zakerving | 6yr

Iโ€™m glad to know that I employ much of these techniques already (I figured I was just using common sense), so having this confirmed makes me feel that much safer. Iโ€™ll have to check out the courses on Udemy too. Thanks!

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@refuseillusion | 5yr

I agree with everything you said except for the software piracy part. I donโ€™t want to endorse piracy, but with the right knowledge you wonโ€™t get in trouble either legally (like from ISPs) or otherwise (viruses).
Only thing you have to make sure is that you know the source of the files and the local laws. Obviously stay away from YouTube, most Torrents and sketchy blogs or pastebin spam.

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@zakerving | 6yr

I donโ€™t want to take up more of your time than I have to: Iโ€™ve been using SurfEasy VPN for a while now, but am unfamiliar with blocking ports and addโ€™l maintenance for ensuring security. Do you have any resources you swear by, other than โ€œNetwork Security for Dummies?โ€

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@danielgenser | 6yr

Yeah! What @zakerving said!

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@alawyerabroad | 6yr

Great post. Youโ€™re definitely right on all points!

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@bryce | 6yr

In a lot of countries itโ€™s pretty viable to purchase a sim card with generous / unlimited data for a pretty low cost. EG. In Thailand, I pay 400 baht ($13usd) for 1 month with 3GB of data (DTAC). There are higher packages and more options.

Combining this with a Portable WIFI Router, you can run your own secure WIFI network. Iโ€™m opting for the D-LINK AC750 but there are a few others you could use.

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@tprophet | 6yr

When youโ€™re on the road, youโ€™re going to end up using all sorts of dodgy networks in sketchy places. But, if you go the sorts of places where I often find myself, youโ€™ll be grateful to have Internet access at all.

VPNs sound great in theory. In reality, youโ€™ll be on some flaky WiFi connected to an even flakier ADSL line on a really slow network. Good luck getting or maintaining a connection over a VPN.

The upshot? Most of the time, thereโ€™s not actually a bogey man. If you monitor the WiFi of coffee shops frequented by tourists, youโ€™re pretty much wasting your time as a hacker. What are you going to get, exactly? Skype chats with friends and family? Pictures of the beach? Governments tend to target local political dissidents and they use hostile DNS tricks and Web filtering to block material they donโ€™t like (for example, you canโ€™t read the Wikipedia article about the King of Thailand when youโ€™re in Thailandโ€“itโ€™s blocked by the Army). And hackers tend to go after information that can be sold, focusing on businesses like banks. While you might wish that someone really cared that much about your startup, itโ€™s not very likely. :smile:

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@jb510 | 6yr

As someone that has eavesdropped on cafe wifi networks around the world youโ€™d be amazed how much info bleeds out on unsecured (no WPA) networks. Granted itโ€™s not things like bank passwords directlyu, but Iโ€™m sure some of the WordPress passwords Iโ€™ve seen bleed out also get used on bank website URLs that I see coming from the same client within a 15 minute periodโ€ฆ

Iโ€™ve never tried doing anything nefarious with that info. I stopped black hat hacking 20 year agoโ€ฆ I was just curious for my own self-interest what type of info really did leak out unsecured.

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@jb510 | 6yr

I recently switched from Private Tunnel (OpenVPNโ€™s pay as you go product) to GetCloak, both are great. iโ€™m thrilled with GetCloak for being user friendly and just stupid easy to use. Including their whitelisting of known safe SSIDs and โ€œovercloakโ€ that locks out non-ssl traffic until the VPN is setup.

Iโ€™ve never found a VPN that was really GOOD to use from South Asia. GetCloak from Thailand tends to connect to Japan, but Iโ€™ve bugged them about adding an server in Singapore which I think would better, especially from Indonesia. They use AWS and Linode for their data centers and Iโ€™m pretty sure both have data centers in Singapore now.

Feel free to send GetCloak a note suggesting that they add a singapore endpoint :smile:

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@coffeeshopceo | 6yr

Cloak App for Mac is a great way to browse securely.
It works seamlessly in the background with relatively fast automatic connections.

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@coffeeshopceo | 6yr

Itโ€™s also only a few dollars per month with a couple month free trial if I remember correctly (Y)

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@darren | 6yr

Yup. Itโ€™s all about a VPN. I use GetCloak. Others swear by TunnelBear.

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@jremick | 6yr

+1 to @gumsโ€™ comments regarding VPN, firewall, etc.

We arenโ€™t currently listing more details of wifi APs on cafes4nomads.com while we focus on the info more people are looking for while we have limited resources to work on the site. Another reason is that cafes or other spots to work tend to change fairly often in many areas, so our information would likely become out of date rather quickly. Hopefully some of the features I have planned for our site will help in this area as well. :slight_smile:

I think that if AP security is that vital for you (beyond securing your connection, system, etc), then you wonโ€™t be using cafesโ€™ internet anyway and will likely have your own 3G/4G secured connection.

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@grum | 6yr

The annoying thing about nomad-friendly spots with wifi is that the majority of them are open access points. Iโ€™d rather jump on a WEP connection than a connection with no authentication whatsoever. If you were to avoid APs that were insecure, youโ€™d knock out half of the ones Nomad use in Asia.

VPN, firewall yourself, block off ports and make sure nobody shoulder-surfs you when using passwords.

I swear by VPNs - plus as an added bonus, if youโ€™re in a country with rubbish internet, a VPN may actually speed up the connection.

FWIW, my Chiang Mai coffee-spot list has AP security listed on it :wink:

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What's the best thing to do with your phone/ your phone number when travelling?


in Poland by @davda1546 | 11d 10 days ago | 6 comments

Hey, hope everyone is well!

We're leaving in a month to go travelling. Our first destination is still to be confirmed, but will likely be Poland or Slovakia. We will be moving around every month or two to different destinations.

The question we have is: what do people do with phones/ phone numbers when hopping from country to country? Ideally we'd just like one number for the whole trip (even better, the number we already have) wherever we go, rather than getting new SIMs with different numbers.

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by @nunoarruda | 2yr 1 year ago | 11 comments

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PS: Iโ€™m a developer and I might actually try and create something to โ€œfixโ€ this if a lot of people are experiencing this same โ€œannoyanceโ€.

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Public transport in Australia: Best route planning tools?


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Iโ€™m going to Australia for the first time in a week or so. Iโ€™d like to visit places like Byron (from Sydney). But Iโ€™d prefer not to rent a car.

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Can anyone recommend any local apps / sites for planning routes on trains, buses, etc. in Aus?

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