Internet/Network Security/How to safely use public wifi


QUESTION: I have a samsung tablet with android ICS on it.  It's not rooted/jailbroken.

Is hotspot shield a good choice to use when using public wifi?

What about hamachi vpn?

Is there an increase in security risk by using a device that has browsers that have saved passwords in public wifi?  For example, when I go to my gmail page at a public wifi, it auto signs me in.  Is that a problem?

ANSWER: While this isn't my field of expertise (I work more on the corporate side of internet security), there are a few things you can do.

This link gives a few common sense ideas about security:

Your Gmail logs you in because the password is stored by the browser and is used to automatically log you in.  depending on your gmail settings or your browser, this can be sent in plain text, and anyone sniffing traffic on the open wifi could potentially see it.

public wifi is generally not to be trusted for anything secure.  Using your device on 3g/4g is recommended, or as you suggested, using a VPN is a much more secure method, since all that traffic is encrypted, at least up to the point where the VPN connects/terminates.  hopspot shield would be a good method, as it does create a VPN for these open connections.

best advice is don't use public wifi, or don't use your device for anything that would be compromising.

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QUESTION: Is a third party like hotspot shield trustworthy to protect your sensitive data and not intercept it or misuse it?

your best bet is going to ALWAYS use SSL encryption on any kind of connections, even if it's a secured/home wifi, or a wired network.  this creates an encrypted tunnel between you and the system your connecting to (like gmail, facebook, etc).  there are some browser addons, utilities and apps you can download that will force SSL on (like HTTPS always for firefox).  

Using something like hotspot shield will encrypt the traffic over the public wifi you're connected to, so that would prevent anyone seeing any clear-text passwords on a public network; however, it may not be encrypted after it leaves the end of the VPN, which is why I suggest using HTTPS/SSL connections on anything sensitive.

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John Palmer


I am an IT security consultant that specializes in edge and core firewall / security deployments in Juniper, Palo-Alto and Cisco firewalls. I can help answer questions about general network security, routing, policy, IPSec, VPN's and edge/core deployment setups. I will not help with : Test Questions, Essay questions, homework, or any questions that could be answered with a simple google search.


I have 15 years technology background, with 5 years specifically in network engineering and security. I have certification in Juniper and Palo Alto, and currently work as a security consultant in design and deployment of firewall and routing systems.


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