Having fun at burger shop or sipping coffee in a famous restaurant, how about pleasant holiday at some resort and make your mind fresh. Who doesn’t love all of these and with it sometimes, we expect at such places another basic necessity – WiFi (oh yes, it has been basic necessity nowadays – people cant rest for a minute without peaking into that tiny-shiny device – mobile). The post isn’t about whether its right or wrong to check your whatsapp messages or facebooks posts every while and then, but I am trying to bring another perspective which seems to be totally ignored by people while using WiFi at public places. Not everything which comes free is actually free. Beware, someone behind the scenes is watching over all the activities that you are doing.
We mostly experience that Free WiFi has been provided at most of the public places like cafes, restaurant, open places etc. and without a doubt in mind, most of us, go straight for it and connect to the WiFi. After all, its free! and why one won’t go for it, which will save hefty data charges. But for a moment, take a pause and see what happens when you use such services
1. In most of the cases, a Free WiFi service requires a mobile number to be entered in a specific site. The service then sends a verification code and subsequently upon entering the code, you are granted a connection. Whoa! so simple. Ever noticed, advertising SMSes that bombard you with various schemes. And you wondered from where those messages are coming?
2. You continue to enjoy Free WiFi service and even access some of the sensitive information like bank account information, payments to various sites, social networks etc. We don’t realise that the service which is freely available has access to most of the information we are transmitting and can record it without our knowledge.
3. At some places even some terminals are offered with free internet connection and you don’t have to carry your own device. Just open the browser and you can access site. An open invitation to invite prying eyes to have a look at what we are doing.
Well its not just FREE WiFi services, but even at your home or office or anywhere else, your information accessed via internet is traceable and may be getting spied. I definitely don’t have solution for problem 1, but in case of others, let me talk about something. Few days back, I got an invite from Nord VPN to review their product and they offered me service for a stipulated period. Interesting exercise for me and I went on finding out whether what they claim – is actually the reality?
I logged into the Nord VPN account and went straight to download section to download the required software. To my surprise, Nord VPN offers software for most of Operating Systems including mobile OSes (and yeah there is one for Raspberry Pi too, yippe for Pi lovers). After the download, the installation was too simple and didn’t took much time. Its not just installation, but actual use of software is also simple and believe me you don’t have to even refer tutorial for same, its that easy.
So after installation and logging into the trial account provided to me, I located the appropriate serve to connect and set up my VPN connection. As claimed on the Nord VPN site, I thought to test out whether my connection is really secured or not. So here the test begins
Most of you, may be already aware about WireShark. A double edged sword to check whats going in and out of your system. I divided my test in two scenarios –
1. Connect internet without using VPN
2. Connect internet with Nord VPN
As expected in scenario 1, I could see all of my information was getting logged in WireShark and it was available in plain text format – the URL I am accessing, header information, data etc. So I decided to use VPN and I came across to a fact that while wireshark still indicated that there are network activities are going on, none of the above information is now available in plain text. Everything was just garbled (in reality it was encrypted). Yes that true even for unsecured sites that are just on http and not on https. I couldn’t even locate the URL that I entered in the browser.
So yes, it really works, but what about DNS leak (If you are not aware of this term, go visit – What is DNS Leak)? While every information gets encrypted, there are still chances that your connection might be suffering from DNS leak and that can still be unsafe for you. Well, Nord VPN has answer for that too. The option is enabled right out of the box. But still, I didn’t believe it, unless I didn’t run few test. So I decided and browsed through few sites (check list below), which reports whether your DNS is leaking or not
Visiting these sites, gave me lot of information (Scenario 1) and gushing red messages :'(. Awww – Creepy!!! Seems like inviting everyone to trace me and my activities. Well I just switched on Nord VPN and revisited same sites, interesting this time the results were different and there was no leak.
So far, the tests were positive and everything worked well. I am sure that using services like Nord VPN can give you additional layer of security and no worries while using FREE WiFi.
Highlighting features I found about NordVPN are
* Double Data Encryption
* DNS Leak Prevention
* Healthy number of servers
* Support for majority of OSes
* Easy To Use