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277 posts

Ultimate Geek


# 208217 1-Feb-2017 15:18
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Our neighbour came over the other day and mentioned they were spending three months in Europe. She said she had read in Consumer magazine that installing a VPN app on her phone was a good idea for security reasons. I had have never really considered this was that important.  If you are want to do banking, etc while overseas would not using your bank's app, e.g. BNZ, be secure enough?  She isn't travelling to China where a VPN may allow you to access sites that are otherwise restricted there.

 

I get that you never do important stuff at Internet cafes, etc, but surely using your phone, along with the appropriate apps, should be secure. She has an Android phone if that makes a difference.  

 

What do others think? Is a VPN app a good idea?

 

 





Tinshed
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  # 1713982 1-Feb-2017 15:30
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Not only is it a good idea, but I'd consider it mandatory!

 

 

 

Public wifi is just that, public. Someone with half a clue could set up a man-in-the-middle attack and intercept your "private" data. Running a decent vpn app on the phone means any data leaving the phone is encrypted and thus safer.

 

 

 

Of course you need a VPN provider that you can trust as in effect they could get access to any data sent through them. I use PIA as they have a NZ server (albeit a bit slow) and openvpn configs that I can use on my android phone.


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  # 1714052 1-Feb-2017 16:11
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Most important IMO is to remove any saved open wifi networks from the list when you are done with them, since otherwise you will be vulnerable to someone using something like a wifi pineapple wherever you are if wifi is on.





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  # 1714084 1-Feb-2017 17:14
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Yes, and no. Many of the VPN apps for Android (an example) either don't work as promised, or leak private information, or plain steal your information.

 

What options you have? Use a known VPN service (I use Witopia) and manually configure the VPN on your Android device. Or use Norton WiFi Privacy - at least is a well known company.

 

VPNs app on a smartphone aren't a big deal really. Most apps (Gmail, Outlook, Office 365, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) already use encrypted channels to communicate, so a VPN wouldn't add much. I would worry more about using a VPN on a laptop. 





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  # 1714088 1-Feb-2017 17:20
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Much of the hype about VPNs is a fallacy. The applications themselves should (and will) have encryption end-to-end. Remember with a VPN that VPN provider and anyone the traffic is being routed through has access to that data. At my old company we hosted a New Zealand node for a major VPN provider and I literally could have watched all the traffic passing back our of there had I wanted....





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  # 1714095 1-Feb-2017 17:51
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Zeon:

 

At my old company we hosted a New Zealand node for a major VPN provider and I literally could have watched all the traffic passing back our of there had I wanted....

 

 

 

 

Heck, that doesn't exactly inspire confidence!

 

Still, I always use a vpn on public wifi for general browsing (phone & laptop), although maybe it's overkill as this thread suggests.


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  # 1714114 1-Feb-2017 19:01
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For browsing a VPN is a good idea. For apps and email sync (excluding non-SSL POP, IMAP) then not a requirement. I always use a VPN (back home) when in conferences because the WiFi is open. Or simply use mobile data.





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  # 1714118 1-Feb-2017 19:22
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Dumb question - can you VPN back to your home router and surf as though you were at home?





Involuntary autocorrect in operation on mobile device. Apologies in advance.


 
 
 
 


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  # 1714121 1-Feb-2017 19:24
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freitasm:

 

If you have a VPN server (router or device with port forward), yes. 

 

 

Is that a safe thing to do?

 

edit: i note my router has option for openVPN and PPTP VPN - is one better than the other?





Involuntary autocorrect in operation on mobile device. Apologies in advance.


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  # 1714125 1-Feb-2017 19:39
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Do not use PPTP. This is unsafe and credentials can be easily collected from the initial connection negotiation. You should use either OpenVPN, IPSEC or SSTP.







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Ultimate Geek


  # 1714368 2-Feb-2017 11:08
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Thanks for all the comments.  As is so often the case, it comes down to, "it depends". It seems to me that the greater your comfort with technology, i.e. your "geekiness" level, the more likely you are to use a VPN. In the case of my neighbour I would come down on the side that a VPN won't add much, provided she sticks to standard apps.





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  # 1714399 2-Feb-2017 11:52
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joker97:

 

Dumb question - can you VPN back to your home router and surf as though you were at home?

 

 

Built into the fritzbox but only if it is the external router. Putting it on the lan as a device disables all the remote access stuff. Apparantly by design which sucks since my prefered external router doesnt have any VPN capabilities at all.





Richard rich.ms

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  # 2258233 14-Jun-2019 15:05
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freitasm:

 

For browsing a VPN is a good idea. For apps and email sync (excluding non-SSL POP, IMAP) then not a requirement.

 

 

Is this actually the case? There has been some research carried out on banking (and other) app security, and some of them are found to be wanting.
2017 report from Birmingham Uni mentioned here: https://threatpost.com/banking-apps-found-vulnerable-to-mitm-attacks/129105/
2019 report from Arxan mentioned here: https://www.itpro.co.uk/security/33377/mobile-banking-apps-are-holding-data-insecurely

 

What I find interesting from these two examples is that not much has changed in 18 months. Some banking apps just aren't secure - mainly sloppy coding.

 

Of course the banking app I use is perfect - drum roll Tui ad. But how do I know? I don't. My take on it is that the Bank T&Cs state they are responsible if there is a security breach as a result of their failure to take reasonable care. So ignoring the hassle factor, it is their problem. They don't say not to use the banking app on open WIFI networks, although do say not to use shared computers in internet cafes.

 

Second thought is, could banking with VPN overseas be an issue? My bank likes to have registration of overseas travel to avoid problems. I assume that if using a VPN, then I would then need to have a VPN provider with a server in the country I was visiting. One minute shopping in Porto Alegre, and the next doing a banking app transfer via a server in say Canada, might trigger a few alarm bells. At least I hope it would.


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  # 2258241 14-Jun-2019 15:10
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All good points but you can't be entirely sure at any moment really. I do have Norton Secure VPN on my smartphone and received a code for the just released TrendMicro WiFi Protection. I generally use these when away and since on the smartphone it's basically a set and forget, you can keep it running for any app.





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  # 2258317 14-Jun-2019 16:20
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Parents in similar situation heading out tonight - have set them up with https://www.phoneguardianapp.com/


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