Two Services That Help Protect Public Wi-Fi Users

August 19, 2012 by  
Filed under Every thing you Need to Know

Network World — if you’re using your computer away from your home network — whether in a coffee shop, at the airport or in a hotel room — chances are pretty good that your wireless network (even your wired network in a hotel room) is unsecure. Tools like Firesheep and Reaver can easily be used by hackers to find out personal information from Wi-Fi users on the same Wi-Fi network — you may think that the guy three tables over is just checking his email, but he could be stealing your credit-card information or passwords.

While many mobile workers likely have a VPN client to secure their wireless connection while on the road, there’s still the issue of people using their own personal computers for work, or for the times when the mobile worker forgets to connect to the work VPN (trust me, many times when I’m traveling I forget to connect to the VPN if I just want to Web surf).

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I recently got to try out two services that aim to bridge this gap for people — both Private Wi-Fi and proXPN offer customers an easy-to-use VPN client that connects to secure servers, and provides an end-to-end encrypted tunnel that blocks tools like Firesheep from seeing the user’s traffic. if you, family members or employees use public Wi-Fi connections when out and about, these are worth checking these out.

Private Wi-Fi can automatically connect and activate itself from startup (or you can activate it manually), connecting to one of its servers from 12 locations around the world. An algorithm can also detect where the closest server is, to improve the Internet connection speed for the end user. The service uses 128-bit encryption and the OpenVPN protocol, and offers a three-day free trial. After that, users pay $9.95 a month (or $84.95 per year, with family plans and corporate discounts also available). The software works with PCs or Macs, and the company says that mobile apps (for iOS devices and Android phones) should be ready next month.

Here’s a video that describes Private Wi-Fi:

The second service I tried was proXPN, which offers a free version (no trial) or Premium account ($9.95 per month). The free service limits connection speeds to 300Kbps and only connects via one U.S. location (Dallas), while the Premium account can access seven locations worldwide with “unlimited connection speed.” in my tests, this connection speed topped out at about 6Mbps, but that’s still better than 300Kbps. The services uses a 512-bit encryption tunnel with a 2048-bit key, and supports OpenVPN and PPTP (Premium) VPN services.

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