VPN recommended for coffee shop wifi?

Discussion in 'Networking & Security' started by biggles, Sep 25, 2019.

  1. biggles

    biggles [H]ard|Gawd

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    Once per week I do an hour of work on the Windows 10 laptop at coffee shops using free wifi. Client emails, project tracking with Evernote, shopping on Amazon, Ebay, etc for clients. Is it recommended to get a VPN?

    What types of risks are there without having a VPN? Passwords stolen? Credit cards stolen? ID theft? Viruses/malware? Other?

    Are the risks same if using an Android smartphone or iPad on public wifi?
     
  2. IdiotInCharge

    IdiotInCharge [H]ardForum Junkie

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    You could have titled the thread with this, and the answer would be 'yes'.

    All of the above, and then client data, which is even worse. The risk is simply having your traffic snooped, in general due to known vulnerabilities in all WiFi protocols.

    Yes.


    In general, while you might have WiFi security with WPA2 through a 'secure' network as well as SSL/TLS with whatever website you're accessing over that network, an additional layer of encryption is highly recommended. I'm quite surprised that this isn't already furnished by your organization and would recommend pursuing a solution there, and in the meantime, to use something.

    The only thing I don't recommend using is a 'free' VPN; there are of course paid VPN services, and you may host your own VPN service through your home if you have a decent router as well.
     
  3. biggles

    biggles [H]ard|Gawd

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    Well I don't have client data. I work in the performing arts, so it is stuff like music and video editing. So no risk of clients data loss. No financial info or personal info on the clients. Also, being self-employed, there is no organization to advise on such matters. FWIW, I have no formal background in computers and tech and have learned everything from websites like this one. Always appreciate advice from tech experts, thank you.

    Back to the VPN stuff. As a Comcast customer they have xfinity hotspots all over the place. Those require a password, is that a good option? Another question, what about using the Android smartphone as a mobile hotspot?

    There are probably tons of choices on VPN's, so that will take some research before picking one. Perhaps the xfinity hotspot or mobile hotspot idea is a temporary solution?
     
  4. DogsofJune

    DogsofJune 2[H]4U

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  5. IdiotInCharge

    IdiotInCharge [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Most of the issue is that you'd be on the same WiFi network as everyone else using the hotspot- that opens you up to attacks / snooping. That's what VPNs help secure against.

    Yes, but so would an LTE (cellular) modem, which is essentially what a smartphone providing hotspot functionality is doing.
     
  6. Farva

    Farva Shens!

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    ExpressVPN
    Windscribe
    Private Internet Access
    NordVPN
    ProXPN
     
  7. ThreeDee

    ThreeDee [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I second PIA .. (Private Internet Access) .. great speeds, pretty inexpensive, lots of servers and no logging
     
  8. Nicklebon

    Nicklebon Gawd

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    The biggest risk in a public hotspot is AP spoofing where someone spoofs the AP and you connect to that vs the actual shop AP. If that is done and then you blindly click through cert warnings then all the VPN layers in world won't help you. If you're the type to not blindly click through cert warnings then the only thing at risk is someone sniffing or spoofing your DNS. All the things you mention are nicely wrapped in TLS additional wrappers only pad someone else's wallet. There are reasons for a VPN but the things you list and the laughable comments above aren't. Personally when using public wifi, I tunnel all traffic back to my home network to avoid DNS issues and filtering,
     
  9. dvsman

    dvsman 2[H]4U

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    I just use PIA as well. It's been a few years and no problems so far.
     
  10. Haven

    Haven I Only Post Important Stuff

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    I have been using VPNUnlimited for years now. It always works, and they have servers around the world. Mostly these days I connect to their server in Chicago.
     
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