Looking for facts as well as opinions, so not sure whether to put this in IMHO or GQ. (Mods, move as you see fit.)
I’ll be buying a netbook in the next few weeks, and once again my thoughts are turning to public Wi-Fi security. I’ll be traveling at some point in the next month or so and would like to go online while I’m on the train. One option is to rent a wireless USB card (or whatever the hell they’re called), which I’m told has its own security, so no problem there. But the price might be a bit more than I’d like to pay, and with the netbook I’d like to be able to go online periodically throughout the year whenever I’m out and about.
Another idea is to use a VPN. A few years ago, I understood this to work through the network on your home computer, meaning it had to be on and connected while you weren’t home. This isn’t always the case for me; in fact, I take my computer offline when I leave the house and completely off the grid when I expect to be gone for for than a day. So no worky.
But recently I looked into it again, and it appears that there are services, both paid and unpaid, that will allow you to use their VPN through an online portal. Groovy.
I’m still not quite clear on how security is obtained. OK, so you use public Wi-Fi to log in to your VPN, and then after that everything is golden. But isn’t that initial login still unsecure? Or it is done through an https:// page, and thus suitably encrypted? (Feel free to educate me if I’ve got any of my facts wrong, which is a keen possibility.)
OK, so suppose I want to go with a VPN. I’ve read some reviews of both the paid and unpaid ones. Obviously I’d prefer free if it’s decent, but I also understand that you get what you pay for. Have you used one of these services, and/or can you recommend one (or warn me away)?
Thanks mucho. I have a sincere respect for anyone who really understands all this stuff. It’s voodoo to me.