iPad security in public wifi areas

Discussion in 'iPad Help' started by happytravels, Jan 17, 2013.

  1. happytravels
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    happytravels iPF Novice

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    Hi

    Looking for advice on using my iPad in public areas with wifi access, like airports, coffee shops etc.

    Should I avoid accessing emails, Facebook, online games and Internet banking in these places?

    I read an article recently about how someone's Facebook account was hacked whilst she was in a public wifi area and then it was only a matter of time before they had her email and bank account details etc.

    Any advice please? Should I switch wifi off in public areas or is there an app to stop snoopers/hackers?

    Thanks
  2. AQ_OC
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    AQ_OC Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Personally, I avoid banking activities on public wifi (and I try to stay off public wifi too).

    However, it is possible to use public wifi safely. You just have to ensure that you are using a secure site....typically these will have "https:// " at the beginning of the url in the address bar. Also, you will usually see a little "lock" icon. Since many browsers are trying to cramp as much of a webpage on the screen as possible and showing you less stuff not related to a webpage, you have to look hard for these indications. For example, I'm logged in on my Amazon.com page right now, but I don't see the "https://" at the beginning of the url in the address bar, because they are hiding it. Instead, I see a little "lock" icon on the tab for this particular page (I have many tabs open and they are all competing for screen space. But this "lock" icon lets me know that my info is encrypted so that others cannot steal my password while I am there. Of course, I'm at home, so they can't see it anyway. I will upload an image in a bit.

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    Last edited: Jan 17, 2013
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  3. Mickey330
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    Mickey330 Administrator Staff Member

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    To add to what AQ_OC wrote:

    You also can subscribe to a "Virtual Private Network" (VPN) service. Then, when on public WiFi, you turn on the VPN service (there will be a settings] for it in your Settings app - the Settings app is also where you will set it up). This way, data coming out of your iPad on the way to the secure site will also be encrypted. This will stop anyone one who is in your physical presence with a snooper [program] that could be trying to get your transmission.

    I don't know how prevalent snoopers are. But, if I need to use public WiFi (and I, too, rarely use it), I'll activate my VPN service. Then I'm doubly protected.

    As a general rule, however, I do all my secure stuff at home, under my own 'security blanket." I don't really trust any public WiFi. But, if you take the proper precautions, you can be pretty safe (or at least, be a less easy target than someone who has not taken security steps).

    Marilyn
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  4. giradman
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    giradman iPad Super Guru

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    Hi HappyTravels - just to add another 'personal' experience and option. I bought my iPad2 nearly 2 yrs ago & for a year traveled w/ the iPad & a laptop; wife had a color Nook, so in a hotel room Wi-Fi situation, I wanted security & if only 'paid' Wi-Fi was offered, the option to use multiple wireless devices on just one charge from the hotel. My solution (and there are others) was the Zuni travel router (pic below) which could set-up a wireless sub-network in the room; however, even if using the wireless signal, a wired ethernet connection was needed to a computer for configuring the router. Well after a year, we now travel w/ just the iPad and cannot configure the travel router - I'm sure there are some other options now but have not looked yet; maybe others have suggestions?

    In the meantime (and before getting an iPad), I followed the advice already given, i.e. connect only in an hotel room (w/ few exceptions), look for the https: URL start and/or lock mentioned, and do not do any banking or credit card purchases. :)

    P.S. For those interested, PC Mag review of the router below HERE.

    B004T8FC66.jpg
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  5. Gabriel1
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    Gabriel1 Super Moderator Staff Member

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    And for another opinion, I always have my mifi with me and even when I have free wifi available I still grab my own wifi hotspot rather than the free one.

    The Archangel
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  6. giradman
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    giradman iPad Super Guru

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    Hi Gabriel - I looked into that option (and for those not familiar w/ the term, MiFi = My Wi-Fi) several years ago, especially when most hotels we visited wanted $10/day for Wi-Fi access (which has become less common) but I could not justify the monthly cost on top of our cable/internet & cellular phone (x2) bills.

    Also, in the USA, the telecommunications industry is pretty much monopolized so 'price comparison' in a locale is pretty non-existent (for those interested, Diane Rehm had a good show on the topic recently - podcast HERE); now there are some cheaper offerings online w/o having to accept a 'contract'; but just curious, what are some of the costs in the UK for MiFi and can this service be 'bundled' w/ others, such as your cellular phone(s) - thanks for any information - the situation in this country is just irritating! Dave :)
  7. Gabriel1
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    Gabriel1 Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I can't answer everything there but you can get mifi on PAYG or contract. I have PAYG and normally I buy 1GB which is valid for one Calendar month, so if I haven't used it all I will lose it, this costs me £10, I think it's £15 for 3GB but I never use that much. You can also buy it by the day in smaller amounts but it works out quite expensive.

    I'm not sure about bundling as I have a different carrier for my mifi and my iPhone. My iPhone allows tethering but only a 500mb allowance, above that the costs go exponential I believe. Having the two carriers gives me the best of both worlds as if one doesn't have coverage in a certain area the other hopefully will.

    The Archangel
  8. giradman
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    giradman iPad Super Guru

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    Thanks Gabriel for the information - figuring out these charges (e.g. monthly rates, data plans, & additional charges if exceeding one's usage) seems to be confusing on both sides 'of the pond' - but, I may explore Mi-Fi again to see if there are some cheaper options for me at present? Dave :)
  9. Gabriel1
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    Gabriel1 Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I like the PAYG option as it gives me plenty of flexibility, if I am going away for a period and no wifi I can buy a bigger lump of data, if I'm not going anywhere, just the odd trip I can buy a day or a month as I need it. If I went with the contract then I would be paying for a lot of data that I wouldn't be using.

    The Archangel

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