public internet security

Joris Dobbelsteen Joris at
Sat May 5 21:08:39 UTC 2007

>-----Original Message-----
>From: ubuntu-users-bounces at 
>[mailto:ubuntu-users-bounces at] On Behalf Of Paul S
>Sent: zaterdag 5 mei 2007 15:30
>To: Ubuntu user support; Kubuntu Help and User Discussions
>Subject: public internet security
>I'm an experienced linux user but new to broadband and wireless. 
>Recently I bought a wireless laptop that I can connect to 
>public wifi networks.  I read somewhere that public wifi are 
>insecure and should not be used for anything that transmits a 
>password (even "https" websites). 

The last line is untrue.
HTTPS has a good security layer, on top of which the password travels.
So it can be safely used and is intended for this purpose. This is also
true for SMTP over TLS, POP3S, IMAPS, posgresql with SSL enabled, ...

>From the theoretical standpoint, traffic over *ANY* link send to the
Internet is not secure (unless appropriate security like HTTPS/VPN/SMTP
over TLS/... have been applied). In practice, an unsecured wifi is a bit
easier to sniff. Is you public wifi provider employing encryption (or
not) on the wireless?

Furthermore, if your Internet is via the cable (where normally there is
television channels), did you know all your neighbours can already see
all your traffic? This is probably a larger area than the wifi covers.

>  I also read that the only way to have security at a public 
>wifi is by using a virtual private network (vpn).

Contradictionary by the above.

>I am also new to a home broadband connection.  I recently got 
>a wired broadband cable network connection (6 mbps).  I do not 
>have a fixed ip address, but it only changes when the power 
>goes off or some other disconnect occurs.  So, most of the 
>time, it will not change.

6 milibit per second?

Seriously, your 6 Mbps are downstream usually. You will be limited by
your upstream speed (which is fairly low usually). Doing so will degrade
your experience significantly. I have VPN for e-mail only and browsing
on it isn't exactly my recommendation.

>I also have a second (older slower) pc that I can connect to 
>this broadband connection at home and leave on line.
>Is it possible for me to create a vpn on my home broadband pc 
>that I can connect to from my laptop whenever I'm in a public wifi?

Why you want this? Seriously ask the question if you really need the
facility. It's a real pain to administer. And it yet again opens a
potential security hole at home as a downside...

>Would I be able to browse the web over that connection?

Yeah, but it is slow in general. Higher latency (especially back and
forth to your home) and reduced transmission speeds (slight overhead +
limited by your upload).

>Is it a secure?

Well, eventually its will hit the Internet plaintext anyways...
In practice its just a little harder to snif you network traffic from
cables. That given that you public wifi provider has the network

>If you are doing this on (k)ubuntu, could you point me to a howto?

I'm not the linux expert unfortunally... Others have all this
information available for you.

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