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Security is often something we tend to ignore or at least consider it’s for other people to worry about. After all how often do we see or hear about some issue with viruses, ransom ware or identity theft and consider whether it could happen to us. In reality most of us are extremely vulnerable to these attacks and the only reason we haven’t is often just a matter of luck.
Most of us now regard a VPN solution as an important tool for doing anything online. In the event that you travel and make use of access points in locations like hotels, cafes and airports – using a VPN is pretty much essential. If you do not then it’s virtually inevitable that at some point you’ll be the victim of some type of cyber crime.
One of the primary issues with these kinds of free Wifi points is that they are almost always installed and set up with somebody without any comprehension of computer security. Indeed many inspections have found a substantial percentage of these devices are installed with default settings. Only the larger conglomerate organisations are likely to have some dedicated staff able to manage these correctly and even then this isn’t often the circumstances.
Think of all the places you make use of free internet access, who supports the connection do you think? Who would you call if there was an issue? 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 commonly the dreaded – ‘friend who knows computers’.
It’s the reason that all these kinds of access points are so tempting to identity thieves and cyber criminals. Here’s simply a small choice of the major issues:
- Core Access Points used frequently by thousands of people to check secure sites like email, consumer banking, paypal and so on
- . Often badly set up with minimal security.
- Allow access to intercept all sorts of data using Man in the Middle style attacks.
- Enables anonymity for attackers who really don’t even have to present if they hack into the router.
They’re definitely a huge attraction for organised identity thieves for instance who can steal all sorts of data if they are able to hack into the router. The other well-known method is to simply set up a free internal access point in the same location and give it a similar name. Setting up this someplace near a hotel lobby or coffee shop means anyone can steal peoples details while they browse. This attack is frequently referred to as the “evil Twin” attack making use of a phony access point.
If somebody compromises an access point or gets you to link up to a fake one then your information is in genuine difficulty. Forget about SSL or HTTPS all these may be bypassed if they possess control of the access point you are actually using. Pretty soon the cyber criminals can have emails accounts, financial details and all sorts of private details.
Your only hope is to incorporate your very own personal layer of file encryption which safeguards account names and details – when it comes to this you need a VPN. Now over the years many people have been making use of proxies and VPNs for a variety of purposes. For people travelling then the overriding priority should be security. The best VPN for accessing BBC iPlayer when in Paris might not really be the best VPN to keep your web connection secure for instance.
Many people use Smart DNS systems to bypass geo-blocks on popular 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 specialised 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 offer virtually no security against any other kind of middle man attacks. Even some of the extremely specialized ones used for retailing 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 vulnerable.
There are some VPN services which offer the best of both worlds. Firstly avoid those who sell themselves as TV watching services, they won’t take the security side very 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, ensure they don’t keep logs and have proper grown up responses to privacy issues.
Further Reading: How to Watch UK TV Online in Australia