Increase your Wifi security with a VPN

As a self employed cam model, it’s common that you work from home.  Many times that means that you are broadcasting from a laptop over a wifi signal.

If you’ve set up your own WiFi security through your own router using WPA, or WPA2 encryption ( most new wifi routers use this) you’re probably fine.

Important: If your router uses WEP, stop reading right now. WEP’s wifi security is ridiculously bad and can be hacked easily from a cheap laptop using a $40 antenna and a free program. Get over to Amazon and get yourself a new wireless router that uses WPA or WPA2 encryption.

If you aren’t sure if your router still uses WEP, find the brand, and model number and search Google to look at the specs of your router.

Assuming your using a good router at home, what if you’re using a shared WiFi signal with other people in the house, or are being naughty and want to broadcast from elsewhere using  public WiFi or a Wifi signal that you have no control over? In that scenario you should ALWAYS assume that the WiFi signal you’re using is not secure.
Unsecured WiFi means that bad actors can get in between your computer and where you are broadcasting to, and intercept or “sniff” your packets.

What does that mean?

Everything you do on the internet travels in packets of information. If you’ve ever opened your network settings you’ve likely seen your active network activity measured in Bytes, or packets sent and received. Generally, once they leave your computer packets are out in public over the open internet, and can be intercepted.

Every Web page that you receive comes as a series of packets, and every e-mail you send leaves as a series of packets. Networks that ship data around in small packets are called packet switched networks. Each packet carries the information that will help it get to its destination — the sender’s IP address, the intended receiver’s IP address, something that tells the network how many packets this e-mail message has been broken into and the number of this particular packet.

The packets carry the data in the protocols that the Internet uses: Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). Each packet contains part of the body of your message. A typical packet contains perhaps 1,000 or 1,500 bytes. – read more about packets at ‘How Stuff Works’.

Yes, I know that was boring, but it’s important to have a basic understanding of how your internet traffic works.

So what do you do if you don’t want your packets sniffed ( pun intended)?  You can protect the privacy of your transmissions by using a VPN, or Virtual Private Network.

What are VPNs and how do they work?

The people over at Android Authority put together an easy to understand video on how VPN’s work.

So basically VPNs increase your Wifi security by creating an HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) internet connection between you and your destination. They primarily work per device, and only for internet traffic…search, and file transfer. They don’t necessarily work with messaging, or email which is managed and controlled by a completely different server depending on what kind of email you’re using. I’ll talk more about secure email and messaging options in another post.

So where do I get me one of those VPNs?

VPNs are plentiful, and are both free and paid services depending on your needs.
Software VPN’s are programs that you can install that create virtual walls between you and your internet connection. I’ve personally used software solutions such as Avast VPN on both my desktop and mobile devices.

Tunnel Bear

I now use TunnelBear on my laptop. You can get a free VPN with TunnelBear that covers you for up to 500mb a mo. That’s probably not going to be enough if you need it full time. Upgrading to the unlimited plan is just $59.88 USD yr. Worth it for peace of mind.

I always use a VPN when using public or free WiFi, or am over at a friends house, and have them installed on all of my computers and devices.

Hardware VPNs

Hardware VPN’s use your Ethernet port to physically getting in between your device and the internet and create a secure connection. Hardware VPN’s are popular with travelers who frequently need to use hotel and airport internet connections. If you don’t have the ability to use your own modem and/or router and are forced to use your ISP’s equipment, or if you travel or use wifi out in the wild.



Most VPNs are relatively easy to install and set up, and to create a secure connection you simply have to turn them on. If you use a lot of different internet and WiFi connections say for traveling, work, or just out and about I highly recommend that you use a VPN to protect yourself from packet sniffers, hijackers and snoopers AT ALL TIMES.

So if I get a VPN then I’m protected, right?

Yes, and no.

A good VPN will create a secure connection between you and your internet destination. This will protect you from packet sniffers, snoopers and man in the middle attacks. If the goal is to stop your roommates, neighbors, or stalker who is sitting down the block with a laptop from sniffing your packets, then a VPN will stop the amateur hackers and creeps.

 

Additionally most VPN services are privacy advocates and understand the need for the people to be secure in their communications. Don’t let price be the only determining factor in picking a VPN. Pick a VPN because it’s what you need, want, and has the trust and credibility that you’re looking for. You may have to try a few out before you find the one that works best for you.

Extra

To VPN or Not To VPN? – Threat Wire


If you want to learn more about the various VPNs, the website That One Privacy Site which lays out a comparison of “pros” and “cons” of various VPN services.

You can also sign up for a free TunnelBear account and try it out for a while.