Jose is concerned about being snooped on when using public Wi-Fi. What can he do to protect himself? Leo says the first thing to do is turn on hard drive encryption. That will keep his data safe should his laptop get stolen. But for just being on a public Wi-Fi, VPNs can be beneficial. VPN stands for "Virtual Private Network," and all of the traffic that goes through it is encrypted. It's like a secure tunnel through the internet. Most web pages are encrypted now, though, so no one could see his activity on those sites anyway.
Al wants to get a router that can run Tomato or DD-WRT, so he can run VPNs through it because mesh routers aren't open source. Leo says a better option is to use an old computer as his router. pfSense is a good open source router app that can do that. It'll give him far more powerful hardware that can do what he would want it to do. He can even use a Raspberry Pi for it.
Jim called in to talk about how the Department of Homeland Security is monitoring not only the free press, but also bloggers, podcasters, and vloggers. Jim wonders if he should use a VPN as a hedge against that. Leo says that while anonymizing his content is a natural reaction, and while a VPN could be a useful tool, but it's not a privacy tool. In fact, encrypting his traffic shines a light on him more than just being a part of the "background noise." Also, a VPN only encrypts the traffic along the way.
Larry went to NAB and saw the SONY Crystal LED (CLED) video wall - 18x32' 8K display. This is likely going to be a technology for billboards, video walls, movie theaters, and other hugely expensive applications.
What's a good, secure VPN? Leo recommends Tiny Hardware Firewall's Blackhole VPN. They don't log anything, nor do they report stuff.
David works with about ten other people in a small company, and they all share files using DropBox. They're getting conflicts, however with certain database files that they have stored on DropBox. Leo says if he has two programs accessing the same file at once, they will have problems. David wants to set up a VPN, and he was able to configure Hamachi. Leo says this won't fix the fundamental problem, though — it has to support record locking. David says that Microsoft Access supports locking, but it doesn't work with DropBox because people are accessing the file on their local systems.
Rick's wife is trying to get around her job's internet restrictions with a VPN. Is there any way to do that? Leo says probably not. They will likely have it locked down to the point where she can't get around it. Leo recommends using her mobile phone in hotspot mode. She should turn off Wi-Fi though because she'll still be under their policies even when she's on her phone using the Wi-Fi. The company has the right to not only prevent her from using her own devices on their network, but also to spy on her. So she should be careful.
Richard watches the BBC through their iPlayer (and likely through a VPN) and now it suddenly takes forever to load on his laptop. It's OK on his desktop, though. Leo says the BBC has probably locked it down for international users. The BBC gets its money through a TV license fee that viewers pay for. So many people use a VPN to get around that.
Darrell worries that his laptop isn't safe on a public WiFi hotspot. Leo says that the reality is he does broadcast his web traffic via radio and it can be sniffed. But these days, most sites are encrypted and secure. If he's worried, using a VPN is a good idea. Leo likes Tiny Hardware Firewall.
The Chinese government made using a Virtual Private Network a crime this week. Microsoft and Apple moved quickly to remove any VPN software from their Chinese App Store. These companies have to obey the law in China if they want to do business there. So both are supporting the censorship, whereas Google still leaves things wide open.