Author Topic: Stuck in a hotel with public wifi  (Read 522 times)

JoFrance

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Stuck in a hotel with public wifi
« on: March 03, 2018, 02:12:07 pm »
My husband and I are living in a hotel right now. I'm not sure I should login through their network so I'm using my phone. It's more convenient to use my laptop though so is there a way to secure it better if you're in a hotel?  The hotel is trying to accommodate people in my area and they can't help me. I'm lucky to have a room. What about temporary passwords just good for a session?  Any ideas?

JoFrance

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Re: Stuck in a hotel with public wifi
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2018, 02:22:30 pm »
Just to explain, our area is devastated by the storm. My street has downed power lines and trees. I'll be in this hotel for awhile.  Our power company JCPL is a disaster just like during Hurricane Sandy.  Blah. 


The Gorn

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Re: Stuck in a hotel with public wifi
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2018, 05:11:51 pm »
My husband and I are living in a hotel right now. I'm not sure I should login through their network so I'm using my phone. It's more convenient to use my laptop though so is there a way to secure it better if you're in a hotel?  The hotel is trying to accommodate people in my area and they can't help me. I'm lucky to have a room. What about temporary passwords just good for a session?  Any ideas?

Wow, I've been wondering about you folks on the east coast. Hang in there.

Jo, the problem is that your data travels over the hotel's network as clear text when you don't use SSL sites, ethernet as a protocol allows any network card to view data passing through the network between any other users, and an astute hacker with access to that network can run one of many sniffer programs to intercept passwords. There's a plugin for Firefox that actually automates password harvesting. Plus others.

PrivateInternetAccess.com is a privacy VPN for $40/yr and will solve your problem. I use it at hotels and at Starbucks. It has no data retention, no logging of customer usage or sites visited. Once you are connected with PIA's client software, to any sniffer your network traffic looks like pure gibberish. It's also FAST. I download movies with PIA connected and I achieve speeds of > 5 MBPS. Which for torrents is really good.

On the other hand, don't worry at all about any site that already uses SSL, including banking sites and most web emails such as Gmail. They are all SSL. SSL is exactly what is needed for your situation. SSL encrypts all info in and out of your browser or other programs.

The chances are that you don't need to be very concerned about non mission critical sites that don't use  SSL. by definition they don't handle financial/credit card info. For example this site.
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I D Shukhov

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Re: Stuck in a hotel with public wifi
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2018, 07:05:44 pm »
Just to explain, our area is devastated by the storm. My street has downed power lines and trees. I'll be in this hotel for awhile.  Our power company JCPL is a disaster just like during Hurricane Sandy.  Blah.
Sorry.  We had a 4" diameter tree limb tear off of a tree in our backyard and it sailed through our neighbor's privacy fence.   I repaired it for her yesterday. 
Yeah, the winds were bad news...




JoFrance

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Re: Stuck in a hotel with public wifi
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2018, 12:23:03 pm »
Thanks for the suggestions.  I like the vpn, but I'm just temporarily using this laptop.  Its my husband's.  Tomorrow I'll have a different laptop because my husband is taking this one to work.

I like that PIA site, Gorn.  Its very cheap.  I've used a Verizon hotspot on my phone.  Thats what I did during Sandy.  Its $20 a month and you don't need to take out a contract for it.  They tried to screw me with it though by charging installation and other fees so I didn't opt for that again.  It wasn't the easiest to set up either.

I decided to log in here from the laptop.  I can't type well on the iPhone and its just not comfortable for anything longer than a little blurb.  I'll just change the password in a couple of days.  I definitely wouldn't do any banking from here, SSL or not.

Isn't it amazing, ID, how those big branches can fly through the air like they're twigs?  It is so scary.  We had 70mph gusts for hours.  I think I prayed during every one of them.  There is a gas station by my house.  The entire platform roof was ripped up and thrown against the building.  JCPL said we will have power back on Weds. morning.  It looks like they will have to restring a good amount of the power lines on my block.  I feel bad for some of my neighbors because the power lines blocked their ability to get their cars out of the driveway.  One innovative neighbor found a way to move the power lines with a long PVC pole.  I thought it was risky, but he was able to do it and get out.

I have met so many people at the hotel from the area.  They all have some tough stories.  There are no hotels available anywhere near here and they're all price gouging because of the demand.  We were lucky to have this hotel.  We got in on Friday so I'm able to extend my stay.  Still, they are booked and trying to keep up with the heavy demand of a local emergency.  I'm lucky.  Other people are in a shelter at the YMCA.


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Re: Stuck in a hotel with public wifi
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2018, 01:18:29 pm »
How's your own house, Jo? It sounds like you're in the hotel because of no utilities.

Hotspots are becoming fairly cheap and there are a lot of options now.

One interesting option is a "FreedomPop" hot spot which, once you buy and activate the hot spot, provides 500 MB/month for free. (Sprint network.) The attraction here is that plans on FreedomPop are easy tp upgrade or downgrade. I bought their SIM (some of their stuff is sold at Targets which is where I got mine) and activated my old BLU DH 6 GSM phone on FreedomPop which is a free 200 min/500 texts/200 MB month plan. Lastly, if ATT has a decent signal where you are, a Straight Talk cellphone plan for 45/mo includes 10 GB, and that doesn't include tethering, but there are a lot of tethering programs out there to bypass carrier restrictions.

I documented my issue a few months ago with porting out of a Verizon prepaid cellphone account. Verizon is extremely customer-unfriendly with support. Very hard by design to get a person on the line.
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JoFrance

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Re: Stuck in a hotel with public wifi
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2018, 02:25:47 pm »
My house is freezing cold, no water, no sewer, no electric, no stove.  The entire contents of my fridge are spoiled.  I had just gone to the butcher - all gone.  There are downed twigs and branches everywhere.  Its a total mess, but the entire street looks that way so it fits in.   :P  If you want to experience what it was like living in the 1800's, my house is the place to be.   ;D

What really P'Os me is that I have to eat the costs of hotels, food, etc. and have no recourse against JCPL and their lack of response.  Its been 4 days now and I have not seen one truck anywhere and I've driven all over my area. It isn't acceptable and this is just damn deja vu all over again from when we got hit with Hurricane Sandy.  Its not like you have a choice of energy company.  Our new Governor Murphy hasn't said squat about any of this.  I haven't heard from our Mayor either about why power lines are still laying in the streets here.  All they do is post on Twitter "Don't touch the power lines".  Well Duh!  I didn't know that.

I never heard of FreedomPop.  The Sprint network is pretty good, supposedly.  That would be all I need.  I've already had a bad experience with Verizon's hot spot.


JoFrance

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Re: Stuck in a hotel with public wifi
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2018, 02:33:12 pm »
Oh, and PS, I'm stuck with my husband in a tiny hotel room and he's not a happy camper.  He's crabby.  I love the guy, but he's making me crazy.

The Gorn

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Re: Stuck in a hotel with public wifi
« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2018, 04:08:02 pm »
Oh, and PS, I'm stuck with my husband in a tiny hotel room and he's not a happy camper.  He's crabby.  I love the guy, but he's making me crazy.

It's a man thing. In a confined area we walk in circles constantly, stalking.  :P
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benali72

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Re: Stuck in a hotel with public wifi
« Reply #10 on: March 04, 2018, 04:50:13 pm »
Sorry about your being trapped in a small hotel room. That would make anyone stir-crazy!

About your question .....  VPN is best.

If operating without a VPN for whatever reason, you might install the browser plug-in or add-on called HTTPS Everywhere. It ensures you'll use encrypted HTTPS with all websites that accept it, which is the great majority of sites in my experience.

Of course, none of these solutions addresses that great personal security hole for all Americans called email. Even if you use a VPN or HTTS everywhere, once an email leaves your system's control it is un-encrypted for the taking.  Thank you, corporations and governments of America!


unix

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Re: Stuck in a hotel with public wifi
« Reply #11 on: March 04, 2018, 05:40:54 pm »
Hang on in there, JF.

I lost power for 12 hours on Friday. It was going on and off. Trapped the car in the garage. Stupid thing had no manual over-ride. or maybe I haven't tried hard enough.

Maglite flashlights everywhere mixed in with candles.
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pxsant

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Re: Stuck in a hotel with public wifi
« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2018, 12:35:52 am »
Of course, none of these solutions addresses that great personal security hole for all Americans called email. Even if you use a VPN or HTTS everywhere, once an email leaves your system's control it is un-encrypted for the taking.  Thank you, corporations and governments of America!

Try Proton Mail.  Even if you send to non Proton users like Gmail, you can still encrypt the message and give the recipient the decrypt code by phone etc.

unix

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Re: Stuck in a hotel with public wifi
« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2018, 04:06:26 pm »

I use protonmail. There is a free version and with a purchased one you get more space and stuff.

I like it.

Especially the self-destruct mesg option.
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JoFrance

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Re: Stuck in a hotel with public wifi
« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2018, 04:21:00 pm »
I got my power back today.  Yay!  JCPL only restored power to my side of the street.  The other side still has no power.  The power lines are still down in the street a couple of houses from me.  The downed tree is still there, so apparently that was not the source of my power issue.  I feel very bad for the people trying to figure out when they will have power again.

There is a great service available in every state, I think, called nixle.com.  Once you sign up, you can get real time alerts and community info sent to your email, phone, etc.  It gives you phone numbers to call, where shelters are, etc.  It isn't just for storm info, it reports on crime, accidents, fires, etc., like a police scanner would.  At least that's my understanding of it.  Its very useful.

The bad news is we're getting another nor'easter on Wednesday, this one with snow.  I'm just praying that we don't lose power again, cause I'm worn out.  It will probably be at least a foot of snow.  I hope we can snow blow it.

I only accessed email through Verizon on my iPhone.  I didn't need encryption for any of it.  Something like Proton Mail sounds like a good option, but it depends on whether the recipient is skilled enough to decrypt it.  When I ran a network, we tried using things like that, we used Zixit.  It was for client sensitive documents, but the only problem was the client.  Most times, they just didn't want to be bothered or weren't tech-savvy enough to retrieve the documents.

Eek, unix.  Who would ever think you couldn't manually override the garage door.  I have a manual door on my, carriage house doors that open out.

I definitely agree VPN access is the way to go.  Thanks for the link of all the options, pxsant.