VPNs

How secure is a VPN?

Episode 1289

David from Palm Beach, FL

David wants to know about Tunnel Bear. Leo says that Tunnel Bear is a virtual private network or VPN, which essentially burrows a digital secure tunnel in the internet. Is it secure enough to bank with or should he just trust "https"? Leo says both are very similar. The difference is that https activity cannot be seen by anyone, but they can see that he's been online. It can also be probed, whereas VPNs are tunnels that encrypt all of the traffic. no one could see anything. It's more security, but similar security. It's up to David.

What is a VPN?

Tiny Hardware Firewall

Episode 1271

Dan from Newport Beach, CA

Dan wants to know about a VPN. Is it good for security? Leo says absolutely. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and it's essentially an encrypted tunnel through the Internet where your data cannot be seen by anyone sniffing around. All anyone else would see is gobbelty-gook. It's great for security if you're at an open Wi-Fi network like a coffee shop. VPNs are really popular for work, where you're working from home but want access to your work server.

Stay Secure on Public Wi-Fi Hotspots

If you travel frequently, you're probably relying on public Wi-Fi hotspots often. While they are convenient, you should be aware that some of the things you do while connected to that hotspot could be visible to others. Many of the tasks that people do online, including banking, Amazon, Facebook, and most email providers, are already encrypted using https. This means that everything on that connection is secure. You can find out if you're on an encrypted connection by checking the URL in the navigation bar.

Is a Chromebook good for VPNs?

Episode 1265

Bruce from Irvine, CA

Bruce does a lot of writing and traveling, and he's wondering if a Chromebook is a good option or should he bite the bullet and get a Surface Pro. Leo says that if you don't really need all that functionality, a Surface may be overkill. The Chromebook, by contrast is ideal for what Bruce does. It's secure, You backup your data to the cloud, and it's ideal for VPNs, which is what Bruce needs.

Is Google Fi secure?

Episode 1264

Bryan from Bend OR

Bryan wants to know how secure Google Fi is. Leo says that there isn't any data beyond it, but there's word that all traffic is routed through Google's VPN. So if he trusts Google, then there's little to be worried about. If he doesn't, he should just remember that he still has to trust the carrier.

Should I be using a VPN when tethering my phone to my computer?

Episode 1244

Rob from Tarzana, CA

Rob wants to know if he should use a VPN when he pairs his smartphone to his laptop. Leo says no. Modern digital cell phones are encrypted and no one has yet hacked their way into that signal. It wasn't like the analog days when you could listen in to cell phone calls with the right software. That can't happen with digitally encrypted mobile phones.

How can I protect myself on a public hotspot?

Episode 1240

Doug from Alabama

Doug does a lot of traveling on the road and he uses a open Wi-Fi hotspots a lot. He's worried about the security of using those hotspots, though. Leo says that using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a good solution, as it burrows a secure tunnel through the hotspot so that all of his data is encrypted. He'd be totally safe and secure. The downside though it that using a VPN will slow him down a lot, and they are a challenge for some to set up. And the reality is, more and more of what he'll be doing online is encrypted anyway.

How can I monitor my home?

SmartThings Hub

Episode 1209

G. Scott from Minnesota

G. Scott has a client who wants to monitor their cabin from their home, including temperature, humidity, and if their septic tank isn't working. Leo suggests SmartThings. They can put the hub into the cabin and the hub talks wirelessly to the sensors installed in the house. The problem with home automation, though, is that there are no standards for it. It's really new. But SmartThings is very good place to start.