When it comes to accessing the Internet when you’re away from home, you never really know what you’re going to get. You have to stay secure to protect yourself. A friend of mine emailed me the other day, talking about this exact situation. He was traveling, and had to check his Gmail from an unsecured public computer. He apparently forgot to log himself out, as well. I asked him if he at least had used the more secure httpS instead of the plain http prefix… and he had not.
I even get nervous at times connecting to my email via my Sprint PCS mobile broadband connection. When I’m sending information back and forth wirelessly, if it’s not being done in an encrypted fashion I get nervous. You never know who will be sniffing packets of information. This is what you need to be aware of when you’re connecting to the Internet via a wireless hotspot.
One way you can help keep yourself safe is by using a VPN, or Virtual Private Network. One program, called Hamachi is free for personal use. I’ve been using it for awhile now, as you’ll see if you check out that link. However, I want to tell you about another program that one of our community recently emailed me about.
HotSpot Shield is another free program that can be used on Mac or Windows machine. It’s been reviewed by people on CNN and CNET, with good ratings. Think of a VPN as a shield that surrounds you and whatever you are wanting to connect to. If you’re connecting to the Internet via an unsecured network, anyone can look at the packets of information you are sending out. What a program like HotSpot Shield does is to encrypt that data, so it cannot be seen and/or read by those would-be information stealers.
While on the road this week, I had a need to log into Ponzi’s machine at home in Seattle, via my mobile connection. She has VNC set up, but it was behind our firewall. I didn’t want to have to go through opening ports and all of that. Instead, I chose to use the new TeamViewer. TeamViewer can establish a connection to virtually any computer in the world with just a few clicks. It’s a way to share screens, or remote control another computer as long as the other person is at their computer and grants the access. It’s simple, and made things much easier on me. I was connected to her machine securely, and quick.
If you are going to connect to a wireless connection, whether wireless or wired… I urge you to use either HotSpot Shield or Hamachi. And of course, why not check out TeamViewer if you have a need to connect to another machine.
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