Security didn’t used to be much of an issue online in the earliest days of the internet. For much of the time this wasn’t an issue as it was primarily a chat/information network and there was little real need for security. Of course this has now changed drastically and the web is awash with personal and financial details. The problem is that a lot of this is flying around only protected with the minimal security that SSL provides like in this video.
Most of us now regard a VPN service as an important tool for performing anything online. If you travel and use access points in sites like hotels, cafes and international airports – using a VPN is virtually essential. If you don’t then it’s virtually inevitable that eventually you’ll be the victim of some type of cyber crime.
Among the primary problems with these kinds of free Wifi points is that they are pretty much always installed and set up with someone without any appreciation of computer security. Many surveys have found a huge proportion of these devices are installed with default settings. Only the bigger conglomerate organisations are likely to have a number of dedicated staff able to configure these properly and even then this isn’t often the circumstances.
Think of all the places you use free internet access, exactly who supports the connection do you think? Exactly who would you get in touch with if there was a problem? The information would be very hard to find as they are probably installed in flying visit then some vague telephone support at the end of the phone. In smaller companies it’s often the dreaded – ‘friend who knows computers’.
It’s the reason that all these access points are so tempting to identity thieves and cyber criminals. Here’s just a small selection of the major issues:
- Core Access Points used frequently by hundreds of people to check secure sites like email, banking, paypal etc.
- . Frequently poorly configured with low security.
- Allow access to seize all sorts of data using Man in the Middle style attacks.
- Enables anonymity for attackers who don’t even have to present if they hack into the router.
They’re certainly a significant attraction for organised identity thieves for instance who can take all sorts of data if they are able to hack right into the router. The other popular technique is to simply set up a free internal access point in the same location and give it a similar name. Putting together this somewhere near a hotel lobby or coffee shop means you can steal individuals details while they browse. This attack is commonly known as the “evil Twin” attack making use of a fake access point.
If somebody compromises an access point or gets you to link up to a phony one then your information is in genuine difficulty. Forget about SSL or HTTPS all of these may be bypassed if they have control of the access point you are actually using. Pretty soon the cyber criminals can have electronic mails accounts, banking details and all sorts of personal details.
Your only hope is to include your very own personal layer of file encryption which safeguards account names and details – for this you need a VPN. Now for many years many people have been using proxies and VPNs for a variety of reasons. For people travelling then the overriding priority should be security. The best VPN for BBC iPlayer might not really be the best VPN to keep your net connection secure for example.
Many individuals use Smart DNS computers to circumvent geo-blocks on well-liked media sites however these should be steered clear of. They can work for bypassing blocks they offer no security whatsoever and there is no encryption layer added to any of the connections. The Smart DNS services are not secure nor where they designed to offer any online protection.
The same could be said for all the specialist proxies you find for sale too. A proxy will hide your identity to some extent from the website you are visiting and your ISP. It will provide practically no protection against any other kind of middle man attacks. Even a few of the highly specialised rotating ones used for merchandising bots don’t really help. You can invest hundreds of dollars in the best rotating proxies you can buy, yet without an encryption layer you are nevertheless at risk.
There are some VPN services which offer the best of both worlds. Firstly avoid those who sell themselves as TV viewing services, they won’t take the security side seriously. They’ll likewise probably have slower servers as all the users will be continuously streaming online video through them. Look for service providers who stress the security of their system, make sure they don’t keep logs and have proper grown up responses to privacy issues.