Wednesday, November 10, 2010

VPN for People with a Life

… where we do something a bit different and talk some tech

OK people, I’m stepping into some new ground here and doing so occasional tips, tricks and tech stuff I have learned. Not just computers, but bikes and anything else (like maybe even TF’s awesome place to get tires online). So today I’m starting with something I posted as a warning the other day and a few of you comment on, the latest in a line of threats one faces using open public wifi nets. This one, firesheep, can be easily downloaded, run by basically anyone and provides a graphical interface so you can jack peoples unsecure browsing session, like facebook. The post I read is this one from Mashable:

Enough is enough so I bit the bullet and took some time to try to sort out this VPN stuff. Long story short, VPN allows you to get use an encrypted connection on an open network. First think I quickly concluded there were plenty of roll your own solutions possible and that I wasn’t going to have the time/effort level to do any of them myself. So I was going to go with a commercial service. The arrays of potential providers is huge, and I checked out a few of the bigger players, e.g. strongvpn (the biggest, baddest and most option rich, like trying to weed through godaddy to get a domain), hotspotvpn, purevpn and WiTopia. 

Here’s a list of urls for you: feed://

I spoke/chatted with several of the companies, and with vpn customer service seems to be important, they were all very willing to help me out. Prices range from a couple dollars to over $30 a month depending on what you want. For the purposes of what I wanted, security in public places, ability to use OpenVPN (best for laptop) but still getting decent PPTP vpn (what you have to use on an iOS device like a touch, iPhone or iPad) protection I went with WiTopia. I like paying for a year rather than by the month and $70 / 12 months looks like a good deal. I’m using iOS device plus a Macbook Pro: installation was a breeze. Connection worked instantly, I tried using IPs both in the States and Canada I got downloads faster than my local ISP. And BTW on you iDevice it works either on wifi or on 3G. Cool.

Verdict: I’m not willing to forego being the kind of loser who uses his laptop/iPad/iPhone everywhere, but I’m not longer willing to be an easy mark for a black-hat loser either. So I’m cool with the < $6/month I’m shelling out. Especially if I can get anyone else to play foursquare with me. :-)

Surf safe,


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