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How to Protect Against WiFi Sniffers and Other Cell Phone Spy Programs

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Part II of Open VPN and How to Stay Anonymous on the Web


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Even encrypted WiFi connections are not to be trusted in the modern internet landscape. Several free wifi sniffers and other cell phone spy software allow hackers (like Facebook hacker) to sidejack email and social media accounts, listen in on VoIP calls and monitor IM conversations. If you use a public wireless hotspot or are concerned about hotel internet security, you would be wise to encrypt your internet connection with a VPN. How to use VPN client software to protect against WiFi Sniffers and cell phone spy programs is relatively straightforward, and is one of the main benefits of VPN protection on mobile devices and laptops (which fact makes it all the more regrettable that many smartphone and tablet manufacturers do not permit custom client software on their devices):

  • Activate OpenVPN protocol; or L2TP/IPSEC if your VPN provider and device offer it. Both of these VPN protocols provide excellent encryption security. PPTP can present problems, since it often silently drops the connection when you move to a new network (as you commonly do when connecting to different WiFi hotspots while out and about). When this happens, you may not realize that you are no longer protected. Additionally, PPTP key transfer is less reliable than that offered by OpenVPN or L2TP/IPSEC.
  • Configure VPN connection to automatic. If your custom client software offers this option, for certain you should activate it so that none of your applications communicate over an unencrypted connection.

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Written by: 
Robin Welles; internet security team, expats team