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I don't run one myself as I just refrain from doing anything that would require one when my tablet or laptop aren't directly connected to my LAN.


If I did need one on my tablet/laptop I'd use OpenVPN as my router pfSense offers a very good server. I'd use the official client software in an attempt to avoid headaches.





What are you doing that requires a VPN?


Are you self-hosting the server or renting one from somewhere?


If renting the server who are you renting from?

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I just saw a piece on it on Dateline, I think. It was about wifi on air flights. And they even free wifi on the ground, like McDonald's, Starbucks, ect... may not be safe. As you could be hacked into with data packets. Going wireless is new to me but i do want to make sure I'm and my devices are safe. I'm not hosing anything, just emailing, surfing the web and normal stuff like banking ECT...

Does my wifi Ranger ski have a firewall built in?

I take it using my data with the phone would be the safest.

This is just a huge learning curve for me and the more I read the more question I get.

Thanks for being patient with me.


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For a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to function you need two ends, a server and either another server (peer mode) or a client. What the VPN does is encrypt the data passing between the two ends making it difficult for someone to see your data. How secure it is depends on your choices for settings but most start out more than secure enough and go up from there, as you get more secure your processing needs (encryption eats a lot of CPU) go up. You can buy a cryptographic accelerator or a CPU that includes one to get higher speeds between servers.


I pretty much ignore the scare stories out there aside from assuring mom that they are for the most part misinformation and ratings bait. It is often hard to sort the scare stories from real security issues even for professionals as the writers and publishers of the scare stories are working hard to make money off their work and can be quite creative.


Now the "WiFi is not safe" scare story is true, WiFi is not safe, but then your phone connection, home cable/DSL connection or whatever is not safe either. For the most part the WiFi is unsafe issue is like "crossing the Grand Canyon on a rope is unsafe", true but it doesn't matter to you because you aren't going to trust WiFi (or any other connection method) any more than you are going to head out across the canyon for a nice walk.


Any time you see the secure connection in your web browser it is using an encrypted link between you and the server you are connected to. That means anyone listening to your data sees it only in encrypted form and without a multi-million dollar effort to crack it they won't see anything. Think of it as similar to a VPN as far as security is concerned but since their server is dealing with the distant end you don't have to provide a server.


Now if you don't use the security in your browser and instead depend on a VPN you will be secure from your client to your VPN server but you will be bare naked and ready for the plucking from your VPN server to the computer you are connecting to. That sort of defeats the whole idea of using a VPN for security for most folks. Many servers will refuse an unencrypted connection to protect you from harming yourself this way.


Where a VPN is needed and useful for security is for a dedicated link to a specific server or for a dedicated link between two servers where unencrypted data must be shared. Since the data is on trusted computers or LANs at both ends and encrypted on the VPN between them it is safe from snooping or tampering. The thing is, most folks don't do anything like that and all a VPN will do for them is cost more money, slow down their connection speed (unless they beef up their CPU processing) and add to their ping times adding more latency to the connection.


The one use for a VPN for a normal user is to hide the location your computer is located at from the server you are connecting to. For the most part that ends up being folks wanting to watch streaming video from a source that blocks it from going to their real location.



I kept my examples above to web browsing but you should make sure any connection you are using is secure, e-mail (POP or IMAP) is a prime example as by default many programs default to no security and many servers allow unsecured connections. Telnet and FTP are other common programs that use unsecured connections and secure replacements for them should be used instead.


Keep your software and firmware updated, your computer cootie free and make sure you have set your programs to use all the security options available and you'll have few problems regardless of how you connect to the net.

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It looks like Microsoft is going to fix one of the worst security issues folks have with remotely connecting to Windows by adding a secure mode to the PowerShell, one less reason to have to use a VPN to connect to a Windows box.





Microsoft has finally decided to add support for SSH to PowerShell, allowing people to log into Windows systems and use software remotely over an encrypted connection.

Users of Linux, the BSDs, and other operating systems, will know all about OpenSSH and its usefulness in connecting machines in a secure way to execute commands and transfer data. And soon Windows PowerShell – the command-line shell and scripting language – can be used over SSH, we're told.
"The PowerShell team [will] adopt an industry-proven solution while providing tight integration with Windows; a solution that Microsoft will deliver in Windows while working closely with experts across the planet to build it," wrote Microsoft group software engineering manager Angel Calvo.
"I’m pleased to announce that the PowerShell team will support and contribute to the OpenSSH community."
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