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Resolved Question

How Can I Use Free WiFi In Hotel Safely?

by johnb1 / June 15, 2012 5:54 AM PDT

Hi,

I'm going to be living in an extended stay hotel (in the US) for the next few months. I have a laptop running Windows 7 Home Premium. Norton 360 is installed.

The hotel offers free WiFi in all rooms, but it's obviously an unsecured network.

I need to work from this hotel and need to know what my options are for working securely. Is having Norton running enough to keep my data and info safe? Or, is the free WiFi offered by the hotel not even an option for safe internet access? I do a lot logging in and out of password controlled sites.

Do I need to purchase something like a Verizon Wireless Jet-pack Hotspot? I was hoping to not have to spend money on that, but I don't know any other safe alternatives.

Any information would be GREATLY appreciated!

Thank you,
John

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All Answers

Best Answer as chosen by johnb1

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Make sure FIREWALL is enabled
by Crash2100 / June 15, 2012 10:51 AM PDT

As long as you have a firewall setup and running on your wireless connection, and your important stuff is communicated with an HTTPS/SSL connection like R. Proffitt said, you shouldn't have much to worry about. Just make sure you have that firewall enabled for the wireless connection you use to connect to the internet.

If you want access back to a home or small office computer, you can also setup a secure VPN connection with a router like this for about $90:
http://www.directron.com/fvs318.html?gsear=1

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Also...
by Crash2100 / June 15, 2012 11:27 AM PDT

By the way, if you're already using VPN to get to your work connection, you should already have this encrypted, just make sure you have the firewall enabled for your wireless connection, so nothing at the hotel can get back in to your computer.

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Thank you!
by johnb1 / June 15, 2012 11:00 PM PDT
In reply to: Also...

Good advice. The VPN looks like the way I'll go.

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Is it just one PC?
by Crash2100 / June 16, 2012 3:16 AM PDT
In reply to: Thank you!

I didn't think about this until just now, but if you simply want this for connecting to a single computer, you might also look at a service like GoToMyPC. You can get that for $10 a month, and the communications are all encrypted.

https://www.gotomypc.com/

One more thing I thought you might want to know about the Netgear VPN router, some people say that you can only connect to it using Netgear's extra cost VPN software, but at least from my experience with it, that's not true. I have been able to use the free Shrew Soft VPN Client with it:

http://www.shrew.net/download

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Answer
The truth.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 15, 2012 6:01 AM PDT

Anything you look at is usually logged. If not by the hotel or ISP but can be sniffed out of the air. If you use HTTPS at all times and secure email (pop3/smtp is plain text!) then what you send is somewhat protected except you still leak what IP addresses you are going to.

Remember that the internet was not made for secure communications. That idea came decades later.

So while it would take a bad move on your part to share your files wide open, what you send over the internet is best thought of like a post card in the mail.
Bob

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