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Mobile wifi


R&J UK

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Hi

 

When my wife and I go for a year long trip to the USA and Canada we will need to access the internet and don't want to rely on park wifi as it can be hit and miss as to whether there is any signal. I am no computer expert by any means so reading about mobile wifi it seems that you can buy a dongle that plugs into the laptop and then you buy a sim card to plug into it , does anyone know of which provider offers the best value for money per GB of usage and how long they usually last for before having to top them up.

Hope tou can understand my technophobic ramblings

Thanks

Roland

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Don't depend on your connection being secure because it isn't. The first hop or two are related to your device and the security built into it (like safe surf) but past that there is usually no security provided by the data carriers. Use HTTPS in your browser and whatever secure method your e-mail provider supports for access. Avoid any insecure connection method (like FTP) that exposes passwords, use secured alternatives that your data provider will have available.

 

It isn't really likely anyone will be spying on you, the bad guys save that effort for targets that are going to make them some serious money but making sure you are using secure communications from your computer is so simple it is foolish not to use it.

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Thanks Bill

 

I presume all of these options are secure even if you are on a public network so that anybody else on the network can't see what you are up to .

Nothing naughty I hasten to add.

 

Your original post refers to "dongles" into which you plug SIM cards. If that is the approach you would propose to use then you would be using a cellular network which is inherently encrypted and none of Stan's comments are germane.

 

The term "mobile wifi" is a confused usage. The cellular network supports mobile use; wifi's are inherently local networks. Making this even more difficult to understand is that some mobile cellular devices, such as Jetpacks, set up local wifi's so that devices in your network can access them. This is why you need to use the link Bill provided so you can better understand the technologies.

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Probably the 2 "best" are Verizon, AT&T for the most extensive coverage. Or, someone on their networks. At this stage of the game, you will have to decide how much data your going to use. Another thing is Canada. They are on separate plans from the US (carriers and such).

 

So lets say for argument, you start in Florida (cause it's the farthest south and east). And your heading to Alaska (cause it is the most north and west). You decide to go through Montana, crossing to Canada there, northwest to Alaska and back through call it Minnesota, Wisconsin, northern MI to Sarnia, back into Canada, to Niagra Falls, and then south down the east coast to Florida.

 

You'll need a US carrier, Montana, turn US off, Canadian carrier on, Alaska - US on - Canadian off, back in Canada - US off - Canadian on, etc. LOL shoot where am I at?? And don't forget that while doing this you will post pictures to those back home on a picture hosting spot. This would be Picasa, drop box, iCloud, etc

 

You want to do that instead of sending a set of pics to everyone - post pics once let people view them from there. Saves a bunch of data. Also, store your pictures on a hard drive and at the end of the month, post to your limit unless you use the AT&T roll over plan. Ours is the 25th f the month, I put a bunch of them up on the 22-24th).

Just a

OR, something like the WiFiRanger, which Joel (above) is a rep, combines both park wifi and your data point. You set it for park wifi as the primary and your data service for the backup. Then, your computer has one device to look for, and the Ranger device will connect you to either one. (Just a user, not any personal benefit here).

 

Another good place to look is Technomadia. They can really get you squared away.

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Your original post refers to "dongles" into which you plug SIM cards. If that is the approach you would propose to use then you would be using a cellular network which is inherently encrypted and none of Stan's comments are germane.

 

I believe if you check you will find the connections from a cellular modem are only encrypted as far as the cell tower, from there on to there destination they are unencrypted by the carriers. In similar manner on a WiFi connection only the link from your device to the access point is encrypted and there is no protection provided by the data carriers past that point.

 

The cellular and WiFi encryption are good for what they are intended to accomplish but are not intended to secure your data once off their link, you have to use a secure communications method (like HTTPS or SSL) on your computer to accomplish that.

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I believe if you check you will find the connections from a cellular modem are only encrypted as far as the cell tower, from there on to there destination they are unencrypted by the carriers. In similar manner on a WiFi connection only the link from your device to the access point is encrypted and there is no protection provided by the data carriers past that point.

 

 

I'm confused by what you are saying. Once a cellular signal reaches the tower it is no longer encrypted, but at that point it essentially becomes a signal on a phone company trunk line doesn't it? IMHO there's a big difference between worrying about someone intercepting a local wifi or cellular signal and someone tapping into phone company trunk lines. Yes, it could happen but that risk is always there regardless of how your data gets into the system. I can't worry about all possible situations in which some entity (probably the NSA) can extract my data.

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The data does travel on data lines owned or leased by the phone company for some portion of the connection but it will likely be handed off to another carrier at some point. At no point does your data become mixed into a stream with other data, it retains unique packets of data, each with identifying tags attached and easy to find and recover. It will share a cable or fiber with other data but that provides no protection.

 

The unwanted access does not require the resources of the NSA, it is simple and easy to do and has been done in the past, often and by a lot of people. It is more likely that the folks seeking data will be looking for that access at the distant end of your connection than at your end. Why monitor a phone tower in Podunk when you can tap in to a connection serving a valuable target? In Podunk one in a million connections may be of interest while at the other end the odds of getting something of interest are much higher.

 

The folks you connect to realize the risk, many refuse to accept connections to many of their systems over an insecure link. More and more places are getting up to speed on this and no longer offer insecure access. My ISP recently got fed up with security issues on FTP which is insecure (data and login information) and no longer offer it as an access method. You can try this yourself, visit your bank, credit card or store account and try to access it using HTTP, it won't work and will likely redirect you to an HTTPS connection. More and more e-mail providers are doing the same thing, some on all accesses and some only for external (to their network) accesses.

 

Aside from poorly designed, or designed with evil intent campground / public WiFi I don't consider local interception much of a problem. Even at a campground or other public hot spot with problematic WiFi the likelihood of someone caring enough to snoop in is low. Maybe more of a risk the campground owner or any hot-spot provider is in a position to snoop on insecure connections if they care to though since they have direct access to the unencrypted data coming from the WiFi access points to their network. If you are running a decent firewall and have designated the WiFi connection as a public network you should be fairly safe from other local threats from a poorly setup WiFi but that won't protect the data you are moving.

 

It is foolish to worry about all the possible ways your information can be grabbed, that isn't going to lead to a solution, just misery.

 

Instead take the minute or two to set your connections to secure mode for your browser and e-mail, for most folks that is all that needs to be done in addition to running the basic firewall and anti-virus tools. For the few folks doing things other than browsing and e-mail the changes needed aren't complicated and the service provider that you are using likely has a lot of help available to help you make them.

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All the major mail systems use HTTPS by default these days. At least any I would use. Banks and financial institutions of course do. All the cloud services do. Not all general purpose websites do, but as soon as you go to buy something you go to HTTPS. Really, there is little of interest that is not already protected these days. From your browser outward. Not to say there is NOTHING of interest that is HTTP. But as Stan said, simply use good tools and there are no real issues. You are more likely to get a Trojan from indiscriminate web access than get snooped upon by a bad guy.

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  • Posted Today, 01:42 PM

I don't use this carrier in Canada but they have been doing a lot of advertising about unlimited Canada/USA roaming for data,phone and text. Might work for the OP.

 

 

 

 

We met some people last weekend who use that carrier and are pleased with it in the US. They are from Canada and warned that it is limited in it's coverage in Canada. Read their "reasonable usage" clause for data. It says that after 5 gig a month they will throttle the speed. Still for around $40 a month it sounds good, especially because US phones are likely to get expensive International Roaming charges added if you use then in Canada.

Have you looked at a phone with Wifi capability bought in the UK?

Several years ago I was in Bahrain and bought a phone there with a prepaid SIM card. When I got it back to the US it worked fine with no excess charges.

Might be worth checking into.

BnB

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We are Canadians and when we snowbird in the US for the winter....We use a pay as you go phone just for emergencies. And a hot spot for wifi......works for us. Simple and cheap. Right now we use t-mobile cards..3 gigs of data for $30 last us a month. However we might switch to straight talk which uses Verizon data and has better coverage. Prices are similar and both the phone (trac phone) and hot spot device as well as the data cards are available at Walmart.

We also try to use free wifi whenever possible. So if we luck out on good wifi at an RV park we use it. We also will drop in at a McDonalds, Burger King, Starbucks, local libraries which all have free wifi.

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I'm confused by what you are saying. Once a cellular signal reaches the tower it is no longer encrypted, but at that point it essentially becomes a signal on a phone company trunk line doesn't it? IMHO there's a big difference between worrying about someone intercepting a local wifi or cellular signal and someone tapping into phone company trunk lines. Yes, it could happen but that risk is always there regardless of how your data gets into the system. I can't worry about all possible situations in which some entity (probably the NSA) can extract my data.

 

On Verizon at least it doesn't matter if someone was able to intercept traffic when running on the LTE network. Their network is using pre-shared keys that don't exchange until they hit the destination then verify the keys match before the data is decrypted. If anybody read recently about the police using those fake towers to intercept phone calls/emails etc that's not possible over Verizon LTE because the "fake tower" can't communicate with the Verizon network because it doesn't know the pre-shared key and the traffic is never exchanged.

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Matt, is Verizon impacted by the SIM card compromises that the NSA has done?

 

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/02/19/great-sim-heist

 

 

The hack was perpetrated by a joint unit consisting of operatives from the NSA and its British counterpart Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ. The breach, detailed in a secret 2010 GCHQ document, gave the surveillance agencies the potential to secretly monitor a large portion of the world’s cellular communications, including both voice and data.

The company targeted by the intelligence agencies, Gemalto, is a multinational firm incorporated in the Netherlands that makes the chips used in mobile phones and next-generation credit cards. Among its clients are AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and some 450 wireless network providers around the world. The company operates in 85 countries and has more than 40 manufacturing facilities. One of its three global headquarters is in Austin, Texas and it has a large factory in Pennsylvania.
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Matt, is Verizon impacted by the SIM card compromises that the NSA has done?

 

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/02/19/great-sim-heist

 

 

Looking at the document you posted it looks like they could be impacted too, but I'm not qualified to say for sure since I don't know all the internal workings of the Verizon infrastructure. The only reason I knew about the shared key info I posted earlier was from a partner event where there was a Verizon speaker that discussed how some of the exchanges work. My point was the Verizon LTE network operates the same as a traditional VPN in the way the traffic communicates to and from users. In all honesty if you're on LTE (Verizon) you're as a secure as a traditional VPN and although you can use a VPN over their LTE network there's really no point.

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If anybody read recently about the police using those fake towers to intercept phone calls/emails etc that's not possible over Verizon LTE because the "fake tower" can't communicate with the Verizon network because it doesn't know the pre-shared key and the traffic is never exchanged.

The fake towers weren't being used to intercept communications. They were being used to locate fugitives. The fake towers would not be able to insert themselves into the real system (for precisely the reason you mentioned) but they could get - and record - the handshake from cell phones as they tried to connect to them. One of the bits of data they'd get is the phone number. If they know the phone number of the phone carried by a fugitive they can determine if they're in the area and then get a warrant under probably cause to determine where that person is by GPS data transmitted or triangulation from the "real" cell towers.

 

Remember that these fake towers were being deployed in small aircraft cruising around large geographical areas. If their fake signal becomes stronger than the real signals the cell phones will try to connect. This then gives them a list of every cell phone that is active in the area. Since they're only looking for specific numbers they ignore the rest. Which is why the agencies involved said that the database was destroyed immediately. They'd have their location data and the rest was of no interest.

 

WDR

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