Thursday, July 1, 2010

How-To Secure Your Browsing Session Before Hitting Starbucks!

Starting today, Starbucks offers free Wi-Fi across US and Canadian cities. Free Wi-Fi hotspots have become a common method for connecting to the internet and sharing information, often private information.

Such hotspots attract the unwanted attention of hackers and others who are interested in capturing the information being shared on the hotspot.

Hackers use something called packet sniffers that if configured, captures each data packet that passes through the network. The captured packets are then decoded and analyzed to read the content they are carrying.

It is possible for a hacker to intercept the traffic on a given hotspot, capture all the packets and read the personal information such as your passwords, bank account or credit card information, etc.. There are a few steps you can take or softwares you can use to make it harder for a hacker to capture and read the information that is being shared on the public hotspot.

HTTPS Everywhere (FireFox Plugin – )

Establishing a secure (https) connection with the server or the website is one of the ways to try and keep the information away from the sniffers, however, not every website you visit offers a secure connection. Simply add “https:” instead of “http:” to establish a secure connection. For example instead of typing in visit

Firefox users can install a plugin called “HTTPS Everywhere” by Electronic Frontier Foundation. The plugin was recently introduced to make your browsing experience more secure. The team behind HTTPS Everywhere currently has over 10 very commonly visited sites that automatically establish a secure connection by visiting the HTTPS version. The list of sites includes Amazon, Paypal, Facebook, WordPress, Google, etc..

Click here to download HTTPS Everywhere for FireFox

Virtual Private Networks (VPN)

Another and more effective way of keeping your information safe is by using Virtual Private Network (VPN) to connect to the internet. Couple of years ago using a secure network such as VPN required more than just the technical know-how, but, now it’s become as easy as installing a software or simply visiting a site to join a VPN that is already setup.

Better VPN services that are available online does not come free or cheap but if you search hard enough you will find some good and free options to secure your internet sessions at free hotspots.

LogMeIn Hamachi: (For Secure Personal Network)

LogMeIn is known for its personal and enterprise solutions. Fortunately it offers a VPN solution for personal or non-commercial use for absolutely free. There is no hardware or configuration required to use LogMeIn Hamachi. Just download the software, install it and you are ready to use a secure connection.

LogMeIn also offers advance setup for users who have good understanding of VPN and would like to setup their own private network inviting family and friends to use a secure connection.

Click here to download LogMeIn Hamachi

HotSpot Shield: (For )

This is a MUST have for everyone who use public hotspots. HotSpot Shield is compatible with Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Windows 7, Mac OS Tiger, Leopard and Tiger Leopard.

Once the installation is complete, you will see the HotSpot Shield icon in system tray, just click on the icon and select “Connect/ON” to connect or “Disconnect/OFF” to disconnect the secure session.

Check your IP at once you switch the secure mode ON. If you see a changed IP you are on a secure connection, if not then try switching it on again!

The software also installs custom toolbars on IE and Firefox. Users can switch their secure connection ON/OFF from the toolbar itself.

Following are some of the features HotSpot Shield offers..

  • Secure your web session, data, online shopping, and personal information online with HTTPS encryption.
  • Protect yourself from identity theft online.
  • Hide your IP address for your privacy online.
  • Access all content privately without censorship; bypass firewalls.
  • Protect yourself from snoopers at Wi-Fi hotspots, hotels, airports, corporate offices

Click here to download HotSpot Shield

Other Notable Options:

These are few of many options you can use to secure your interactions on the internet and have a safe browsing experience.

Do leave a comment and let us know if you know of better and free VPN or other solutions to have a secure connection.

Posted via email from ://allthings-bare

No comments:

Post a Comment