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Thread: Safety Using Unsecured Wireless Network

  1. #1
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    Safety Using Unsecured Wireless Network

    My wife and I are going on a vacation and we shall be taking our computer.

    There are many wi-fi hotspots, all unsecure, through which we can connect to the internet including hotel/motels (which, even though they generally have a password, are unsecure because many guests - and you don't know who they are! - have it).

    My problem is that, on this vacation, I am going to have to do some online banking. I must obtain my credit card bills and must pay them, as well as other bills, via online checking. I have no other practical option.

    Is it relatively safe (safer?) to use a dial-up connection rather than the available broadband connection (which is unsecure) to access financial sites?

    If I were to use the unsecured broadband connection but, rather than typing my logins and passwords, copied and pasted them into the requisite dialog box on the [financial] site(s) from a previously prepared document, would this be relatively safe (safer?)?

    Does using [Ubuntu] Linux rather than Micorosoft Windows make a difference in the possibility of interception, especially by such things as keyloggers which may be attached to a hotel's network?

    I am not "computer-sophisticated" so I cannot prepare a "virtual machine." In any case, I do not know if that would make accessing financial sites any safer.

    I am currently using Ubuntu v.10.04 'Lucid Lynx' and I have both ClamAV and Firestarter installed.

    I am sure others here may have had the same question; any answers or advice would be welcome. Thank you for reading this.
    Last edited by lhb1142; July 4th, 2010 at 07:13 PM.

  2. #2
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    Re: Safety Using Unsecured Wireless Network

    I would suggest not taking any chances at all and playing it safe. Try it on maybe a Private Hotel Network if there is one. If though There is none, I would suggest trying to be safe when browsing online. Especially on a public network.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Safety Using Unsecured Wireless Network

    There are good encryption programs you can use.
    Lucid Lynx 10.04LTS amd64 user.

  4. #4
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    Re: Safety Using Unsecured Wireless Network

    Many hotel and other "public access" wireless networks are set up as ad-hoc. That style of network is even more unsafe than the usual Infrastructure type usually found in your house, for example.

    I worked in a Hotel as an Engineer (fancy work for a fix it guy!) several years ago. Being the only guy on the entire staff that could spell "Internet", I got "voted" (read drafted) on call hotel computer expert. I got dozens of complaints from the guests about there computers and anti-virus apps going berserk after connecting to the wireless network.

    If you value your banking privacy, don't use a "public access" points.
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  5. #5
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    Re: Safety Using Unsecured Wireless Network

    Quote Originally Posted by barney385 View Post
    There are good encryption programs you can use.
    Such as ... ?

    I already have TrueCrypt installed and I have encrypted a folder on a USB flash drive but I do not know how to use TruCrypt to connect to the internet (if that is possible). Would using it prevent nefarious persons from obtaining my logins and passwords?

    Would you please enlighten me further, perhaps with some links to sites which offer the requisite information and instructions?

    To those who say I should not use an unsecure network - I agree with you, of course. But, if you read my question properly, you would see that I wrote that I have no choice in this situation. Thus I must use such sites.

    I am looking for specific information on means to make such connections [at least more] secure.

    Does anyone have any information concerning copying and pasting logins and passwords rather than actually typing them?

    In addition, what about a dial-up connection? Is that more secure, especially using Linux?

    Thank you.
    Last edited by lhb1142; July 4th, 2010 at 07:15 PM.

  6. #6
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    Re: Safety Using Unsecured Wireless Network

    Quote Originally Posted by lhb1142
    My wife and I are going on a vacation and we shall be taking our computer.
    ...
    My problem is that, on this vacation, I am going to have to do some online banking. I must obtain my credit card bills and must pay them, as well as other bills, via online checking. ...
    The most important consideration since you will be taking your own computer with you on the vacation is that the financial institution with which you will be doing online banking has a secure site for that banking.

    To put it not-technically, it's done from an "https" URL.

    Your browser will indicate a secure site (i.e. Firefox has a lock icon in the status bar).

    Since communication between your computer and the site are encrypted, it's as secure as if you were doing it from home.

  7. #7
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    Re: Safety Using Unsecured Wireless Network

    Quote Originally Posted by QLee View Post
    The most important consideration since you will be taking your own computer with you on the vacation is that the financial institution with which you will be doing online banking has a secure site for that banking.

    To put it not-technically, it's done from an "https" URL.

    Your browser will indicate a secure site (i.e. Firefox has a lock icon in the status bar).

    Since communication between your computer and the site are encrypted, it's as secure as if you were doing it from home.
    Yes, all of my financial institutions use "https" URLs. What I am most concerned about is "interception" programs, such as keyloggers and their ilk, which can be placed on an unsecure network.

    Do you know if copying and pasting the logins and passwords is safer than typing them? Is a dial-up connection inherently safer than using the unsecure network?

    In short I would like to know what others do when faced with similar situations.

    (And, by the way, yes I will be using my own computer; I would not even think of using a "public" computer to access any site (including my e-mail) in which I must enter a login and password.)

    Thank you for reading this and for replying to me.
    Last edited by lhb1142; July 4th, 2010 at 07:25 PM.

  8. #8
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    Re: Safety Using Unsecured Wireless Network

    Yes, all of my financial institutions use "https" URLs. What I am most concerned about is "interception" programs, such as keyloggers and their ilk, which can be placed on an unsecure network.
    They don't log keys, they log packages: And yes they can intercept your data... Banks are supposed to have good security but I've heard many a tale about banks that, although they used shttp, sent the login data unsecured in the headers....

    Do you know if copying and pasting the logins and passwords is safer than typing them? Is a dial-up connection inherently safer than using the unsecure network?
    No it isn't, but keyloggers don't work on ubuntu, it's not like someone can read your computer over the network.

    In short I would like to know what others do when faced with similar situations.
    I would use TOR, it is guarenteed to be much more secure... http://www.torproject.org/
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  9. #9
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    Re: Safety Using Unsecured Wireless Network

    Quote Originally Posted by lhb1142
    Yes, all of my financial institutions use "https" URLs. What I am most concerned about is "interception" programs, such as keyloggers and their ilk, which can be placed on an unsecure network.
    Encrypted end to end. What could anyone see in between other than there were packets going between the two IP addresses.

    Quote Originally Posted by lhb1142
    In short I would like to know what others do when faced with similar situations.
    It's what I do. IPTables block incoming from any network I'm on, you probably have your Firestarter doing that too.

  10. #10
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    Re: Safety Using Unsecured Wireless Network

    Quote Originally Posted by J V View Post
    They don't log keys, they log packages: And yes they can intercept your data... Banks are supposed to have good security but I've heard many a tale about banks that, although they used shttp, sent the login data unsecured in the headers....

    No it isn't, but keyloggers don't work on ubuntu, it's not like someone can read your computer over the network.

    I would use TOR, it is guarenteed to be much more secure... http://www.torproject.org/
    I just checked TOR - this is a program to make internet connections anonymous, not to protect others from intercepting logins and passwords to financial institutions over an unsecure network connection.

    I am intrigued by your claim that keyloggers do not work on Ubuntu connections; do you have a link to a site which explains this further? That would be the answer to my "problem" as all my financial institutions do use "https" and even ask for answers to personal questions prior to actually allowing me to login.

    I guess that keyloggers, physically attached to an unsecure network, either wired or wireless, are my primary concern; I am also concerned that someone could "tap in" to my computer to see exactly what I am doing. I would hope that Linux is immune from both.

    Thank you for your reply to me.

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