Easy, free security for public wifi hotspots (UK only)

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Easy, free security for public wifi hotspots (UK only)

Postby viking777 on Wed Aug 22, 2012 11:57 am

As many of you will be aware, public wifi hotspots very frequently do not use encrypted connections, so anyone with a packet sniffer and the will to use it can just about trace anything that you do whilst using one. The usual advice is to not use public wifi for anything personal. That might be OK if you are just popping into Starbucks for a coffee, but if you are about to spend 5 years on a university campus it is not very practical, so here is another way, it is completely free (you don't even have to login) and very easy to set up. Virtual Private Networking is something I have always overlooked before as being either too difficult, costing money, or requiring additional software. I might have been wrong about this in the past, I am definitely wrong about it now. To see why go to:

http://www.bestukvpn.com/

On their homepage you want two pieces of information, the PPTP password which is at the top of the page and your ip address which is in a blue box at the bottom of the page, so write them down.

Setup instructions are below, I have done this using Mint 13 and the standard gnome network manager, if you have a different version of either the procedure may differ slightly.

1) Click on tray network manager icon, go to VPN Connections, Configure VPN.
2) Click the add button, leave the connection type alone (PPTP), click Create.
3) In the 'Gateway' section type "bestukvpn.com" (without quote marks). The username is "free" (again remove quote marks), and leave the password blank, but change the password setting to "Always Ask" using the drop down box.
4) Click the advanced button then check the tick boxes for "Use Point to Point Encryption" and "Stateful Encryption". Click OK then Save then Close.
5) Now go back to your tray network manager icon, click it, scroll down to VPN Connections and click on VPN Connection 1 (unless you renamed it or have more than 1 VPN)
6) Type in the password you noted down earlier. The connection will renegotiate and Mint will eventually display a pop up saying "VPN Connection Successfully Established". To confirm this go back to http://www.bestukvpn.com, reload the page and check the ip address in the blue box at the bottom. It should now be a different address and as you will read on the home page, all your network data will now carry 128bit encrpytion.

Once the setup has been completed obviously the vpn connection is available for any network that you choose to use it on, just click the VPN Connection 1 link in the network manager tray icon. Obviously public wifi hotspots are the main reason for this service to exist, but you don't have to restrict it to just that if you don't want to.

On the bestukvpn.com website you will see instructions as to how to configure systems such as Android and Apple as well so it is available for you mobile devices too. There are no instructions for Linux of course which is why I made the post. :)
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Re: Easy, free security for public wifi hotspots (UK only)

Postby Oscar799 on Wed Aug 22, 2012 12:25 pm

Tried this with Mint 13 MATE - works perfectly :P
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Re: Easy, free security for public wifi hotspots (UK only)

Postby viking777 on Wed Aug 22, 2012 1:06 pm

Thanks Oscar, at least it means I explained the instructions clearly.

But please, don't tell me you are administering this forum from a public wifi hotspot :shock:
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Re: Easy, free security for public wifi hotspots (UK only)

Postby Oscar799 on Wed Aug 22, 2012 1:09 pm

No viking - I'm in my house,as usual...but I may take a fancy for a trip to a coffee shop - I won't admin from there though,I'll go AWOL for a while :lol:
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Re: Easy, free security for public wifi hotspots (UK only)

Postby viking777 on Wed Aug 22, 2012 2:18 pm

I am beginning to think reliability might be a problem with this service (as with all free services?) I can't connect to it at all now, it was fine an hour ago :(

Edit. I tried with their newer server ukvpn.newfreevpn.com and that does allow me to connect from my laptop (and also has Linux instructions - hadn't seen those before) but I tried two android devices (on both servers) and no joy there at all - incorrect username or password every time.
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Re: Easy, free security for public wifi hotspots (UK only)

Postby viking777 on Fri Aug 24, 2012 1:45 pm

Well I have tried long and hard to get this service to work with my Android phone and it just doesn't. Works fine on my laptop, works fine on my wife's Android phone (same android version as mine), but hasn't a hope in hell of working on my device. Either it won't connect to the server at all, or when it does it blocks all internet access, even its own home page.

So I have trawled though loads of so called 'free' vpn's for Android and I come to the conclusion that there aren't any, and even the ones that are paid for and remarkably popular, like 'Hotspot Shield' do not work for me.

However, I don't like to feel I have let people down, so if you find this topic of interest and would like to use a vpn service that does work on an Android phone, then the best I can come up with is Vpn1click http://www.vpnoneclick.com/ . It isn't free, but at $9/year it isn't remotely expensive. It starts out with a two day free trial, which works perfectly on my phone with no setup involved at all, and unlike the server suggested in the opening post, this is available worldwide, not just for UK residents. In fact it allows you to securely connect via servers in a dozen or more countries, so if you are overseas and want to connect to bbc iplayer, you can do so, just choose a UK server.

This is not an advert, just the results of a lot of experimenting on my part so that hopefully you don't have to go through the same gruelling procedure, and if you think I am wrong then feel free to suggest a better alternative, because atm I cannot find one.

Edit. I finally found out a reason for this strange behaviour on android, as stated in this web page:

http://www.securitykiss.com/resources/a ... d_vpn_bug/

This explanation ties in pretty well exactly with what I an seeing. I can usually connect to pptp servers on Android (if I can't it is because they are overloaded), and my browser progress bar shows that it starts to work but always stops again. It also explains why Vpn1click works - they dont use PPTP connections, but L2TP instead. It doesn't explain why my wife's phone works with PPTP though I guess that will always remain a mystery :?
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