USE FREE PUBLIC WI-FI SAFELY
(without getting your passwords and selfies stolen)
Free public Wi-Fi is very much a double-edged sword. On the one hand, free internet access while you’re waiting around in the airport is a godsend. On the other, arriving at your destination and finding out your Facebook account has been compromised, not so much. It’s important to realize that, while you’re on a public network (and not browsing an HTTPS website), any enterprising individual can easily see what you’re doing, which includes any sites you visit, any personal information you access and any passwords you enter.
Here’s how to protect your identity and safely use any public network, by setting up a secure web proxy on your home computer, and then connecting to it via an encrypted VPN (Virtual Private Network).
STEP 1 - CREATE YOUR VPN
A VPN creates a password protected private network between any of the computers you install it on.
There are a few options for free VPN services out there. We’re using LogMeIn’s Hamachi as it’s one of the easiest to configure. Download it from www.secure. logmein.com/products/hamachi/ and install it on both your notebook and home computer. You will need to sign up for an account first. The free version will allow you to have up to five computers on your VPN.
Launch Hamachi on your home computer and press the blue Power button to start it up. Then, go to Network menu and select ‘Create a New Network’. Give your network an ID name and password, then click create. Take note of the IP address assigned by Hamachi.
On your notebook or mobile device (there’s a Hamachi Mobile app available for iOS and Android), launch Hamachi, power it up, and go to Network > Join an existing network, then enter the ID and password you set up on your home computer. STEP 2 - INSTALL AND SET UP YOUR WEB PROXY A web proxy works by acting as a shield between your computer and the Internet. When you use a proxy, you’re not actually connecting to your intended site; instead, the web proxy is connecting to the site for you, filtering out your personal information.
Like our VPN, we have a few options here. We’re using a free service called Privoxy. Grab it from www.privoxy.org and download it on your home computer. Once it’s installed, launch it and a blank window will open and you’ll see a Privoxy icon in your system tray. You can close the blank window.
Now we’re going to set up Privoxy to allow your VPN to go through it.
Right click the Privoxy icon in your system tray and select Edit > Main Configuration. This will open a Config.txt file.
Scroll to entry 4.1 Listen Address and look for this line (it’s the only line that doesn’t start with a # comment code): listen-address 127.0.0.1:8118 Replace 127.0.0.1 with the IP address created by Hamachi. Make sure the :8118 is still there behind your IP address (this is the port used). Save the file and then restart Privoxy. Your proxy will now accept requests from your VPN.
STEP 3 - SET UP YOUR WEB BROWSER TO USE YOUR NEW SECURE PROXY
Google Chrome Install the ‘Proxy Switchy!’ extension, then click on the globe icon next to the Settings spanner, and select Options. In the Profiles tab, name your profile and tick Manual Configuration. Enter the Hamachi IP address of your home computer and set the port number to 8118, then save your profile. To activate your proxy, click the Globe icon and select your Profile. Mozilla Firefox Open Firefox preferences, then click on the Advanced tab. Click the Network tab, then the Settings button for ‘Configure how Firefox connects to the Internet’.
Now tick Manual Proxy Configuration and enter the Hamachi IP address of your home computer, set the port number to 8118 and click OK.