Is it necessary to have a VPN?

Episode 1306

Tom from St Louis, MO

Tom is wondering if it's necessary for him to have a VPN (Virtual Private Network). Leo says if he uses Wi-Fi in public, or he uses networks while traveling, he's somewhat vulnerable because he's on a public network that bad guys can get into. They can't necessarily spy on him, but they could trick him by putting up fake access points. A VPN sets up a connection between his computer on a public access network and a computer somewhere else run by a trusted party. All the data transferred over a VPN is encrypted so it isn't visible by anyone else on that network.

Does the Tiny Hardware Firewall give you extra protection over a VPN?

Tiny Hardware Firewall

Episode 1296

Ron from Baltimore, MD

Ron has the Tiny Hardware Firewall, which he likes. Once he's connected to the VPN inside of it, what does the firewall do, though? Leo says that the firewall is the first level of protection. It acts as a router and is the attack surface, not the computer. A router is a dumb device that doesn't know what the attack is and ignores it, unless there's a security flaw inside the system. Like a router at home, the Tiny Hardware Firewall gives a little extra protection, though.

Is the Tiny Hardware Firewall a good idea for hotspotting?

Tiny Hardware Firewall

Episode 1294

Chris from San Marcos, CA

Chris is looking at the Tiny Hardware Firewall. He thinks it's a great idea, but what VPN client should he use? TOR? Leo says that TOR and VPN are different things. VPN or "virtual private networks" are tunnels bored through the internet, but TOR encrypts it. It is great and Leo uses it when he travels or is using a public Wi-Fi access point. It just fits in his pocket, too. He should be careful when he's joining a public hotspot. He'll get most of the benefits from a VPN, though, if he just surfs to sites using https.

How can I use my VPN with dual monitors?

Episode 1210

Monica from Diamond Bar, CA

Monica uses two monitors on her computer, but when accesses her work's VPN, it only supports one monitor. Is there an option for her? Leo says that Microsoft Terminal Services Client can be forced to use both monitors by adding "/span" to the command line shortcut on the desktop that looks like this: %windir%\system32\mstsc.exe /span. She can also do it in her settings. The chatroom also says that if the monitors have different resolutions, that can cause issues as well. Another thing to check is to see if the Windows license permits it. Windows Ultimate will, but home won't.

How can I stream video from South America?

Uruguay flag

Episode 1139

Joe from San Diego, CA

Joe is moving to Uruguay and he's finding that he can't use Netflix or other streaming video services there. This is just because many of the popular streaming services don't work in all countries. If he had a house in the US with a cable subscription, he could use HBO Go, or Time Warner cable's app.

ScooterX says that Netflix is in Uruguay now, but it'll be a limited catalog. Could he Slingbox with a friend's account? Leo says that would be one way to do it.

Patent Troll Wins Case Against Apple Over FaceTime

Episode 1090

A Patent Troll company, VimetX sued Apple over FaceTime and VPN On Demand functions in Texas. The jury ruled in their favor, and a judge ordered a $368 million payout and 1% annual royalty which will amount to $340 million annually. Apple has been fighting it, but they haven't been successful. Apple is going to keep fighting, but they've also lost on appeal.

Why should I use a VPN?

Episode 1016

Gary from Evansville, IN

VPN stands for "Virtual Private Network". There are risks in accessing the internet from an open, public Wi-Fi hotspot, such as a hotel or airport. If, for example, your email provider doesn't encrypt your username and password when you log in, then anyone on that shared network will be able to grab those login credentials fairly easily. Even if you just have an email program running in the background, someone with a sniffer could get your credentials without you even knowing about it.

How can I use the Internet in China?

Episode 1005

Eileen from Huntington Beach, CA

Eileen is interested in VPN services when she goes to China. Leo says that in many cases, the Chinese government will block VPNs and in some cases, it could put up a red flag. Leo spent a few weeks in China a few years back and access to different social media comes and goes. There's a great Wikipedia Page which lists what works and what doesn't. Another good one is GreatFire.org.