As we transition from bus living to boat living we are making some changes in how we access the internet. In the US that means using a Verizon dongle and in Canada I think we'll end up with a tethered Blackberry as our primary "secure" connection. But we'd like to be able to use wi-fi when its available and it seems like a lot of marinas provide open wi-fi connections.
I'm not a techno-geek by any stretch so I want to throw this out for the uber-geeks. I've heard a lot about open wi-fi security being more compromised than before because of some new malware that is out. Am I correct in thinking that if I put a router between our computers and the PepWave Surf 200 that we are using as a booster we could then configure the router as a hardware firewall and thereby achieve a decent measure of security?
I don't think so. WiFi interception can occur anywhere there is an open (or compromised) signal. It is NOT penetration of your computer - any decent firewall will protect you from that, and most public WiFi will not allow one node to connect to another.
The problem is open transmission of data. An example would be a website that has you go to an http: page to login, then goes secure after that. Your login and password can be intercepted, even though your further communication is not. With that login they could pose as you and gather whatever was then available on the secure site.
Most secure sites have you input your data only when you are already on an https: page. Those are secure from any typical WiFi exploit. I doubt there is any bank that doesn't work that way, and it has also become common on shopping sites like Amazon. Also true on my arcatapet.com site
E-mail is another one that is easy to grab over an open WiFi. Either don't send/receive anything you don't want intercepted, or use a secure e-mail service such as g-mail.
To summarize: Putting in a hardware firewall will not protect you from the exploits that are typically being talked about. It will stop penetration from the outside, but so does any software firewall on your computer, and penetration isn't the problem anyway.
Thank you Don. I guess we'll continue to use the Verizon/Blackberry for secure access and browse forums with the nav computer. I was afraid that might be the answer but I needed somebody wiser than me to confirm it.