VPNs

Johnny Jet on Travel Tech

Episode 1535

Travel Tip - When traveling overseas, always pay in local currency. If they ask if you'd like to pay in US dollars, you'll likely get charged a conversion fee with your credit card. Also. Let your bank know that you're traveling overseas. Also, pay using a credit card. Your debit card is no protected if the card gets stolen or hacked.

Another tip - use a VPN while traveling with your internet access. You'll actually save money by pretending you're in a different country and you're booking flights. Leo uses a travel router, which protects him overseas.

Will a VPN keep my web traffic private?

Episode 1522

David from Anaheim, CA

David is thinking about installing a home VPN. Leo says he understands the security concerns, but he won't like using it for very long. It will really slow down his bandwidth. Leo recommends a service called CloudFlare. It changes his DNS to 1.1.1.1, and then masks his traffic so his ISP doesn't know where he's going. He can set it at the router level and he will protect every device in his house.

Is a VPN faster than remote access?

Episode 1520

Ilya from Los Angeles, CA

Ilya spends a lot of time traveling and wants to know if Remote PC is a good way to access his computer to surf. Leo says you can, but it could be slower than using a VPN. It really comes down to your bandwidth, and what VPN service you're using. You'd certainly be more secure with a remote access product or VPN. But that doesn't mean a host nation won't see what you're doing. They'll at the very least be suspicious as to why you're using an encrypted app. So avoid authoritarian countries when using it. Leo also recommends the Ubakey.

Do I need a VPN to change my DNS?

Episode 1518

Richard from West LA

Does Richard have to create a VPN to set up his DNS settings? Leo says no. DNS is essentially the phone book that the internet uses to look your address up. You don't use a VPN for that. VPNs are for encrypted net traffic. OpenDNS is the best DNS that Leo likes. CloudFlare is another. Quad Nine. Google even has a secure DNS. All are great if you're concerned about privacy, as it allows you to filter traffic at the router level. Log into your router, look for the DNS settings, and input the DNS address of your DNS server.

Why does my cursor jump around?

Apple MacBook Pro

Episode 1509

Dan from Yankee Town, FL

Dan is having an issue where on his MacBook the cursor jumps while he's typing. He can't even write an email. It'll even start a command. Leo suspects it's a problem with the trackpad. He should try cleaning it first. Sometimes "schmutz" can cause phantom touches. The palm rejection software in the OS may have been disabled. The worst case scenario is that the trackpad is failing. Since the laptop is about a year old, he could take it into the Apple Store and have them take a look at it.

How can I be secure on public Wi-Fi?

Tiny Hardware Firewall

Episode 1496

Jose from Ontario, CA

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.

What router should I use to run a VPN?

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pfsense215.jpg

Episode 1487

Al from California

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.

How can I encrypt and anonymize my web use?

Anonymous

Episode 1485

Jim from Indianapolis, IN

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.