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Data Encryption & VPN - Wifi Security For Mac
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Data Encryption & VPN  -  Wifi Security for Mac

There are two ways to think about wifi security for Mac. One, is to protect your own wifi connection from outsiders. The other is to protect your Mac while connected to a shared network (public wifi). This article is about the latter. Connecting to shared networks isn't as safe and anonymous as you may think, and you need to take some steps to protect your online presence while sharing a wifi connection.

It's common to take your laptop on the go, or even use a laptop on a shared work connection. The ways and places we connect to the internet increase every year. The thing that most people don't realize is that while connected to a shared network like public wifi, you're opening your door to identity theft. Your IP address is like the door to your files, and once you're identified on a network, you become a target. Packet sniffing software aimed at monitoring and intercepting information being passed over a network can easily be found and used.

Yeah, you might need a bit of paranoia to actually take steps to prevent eavesdropping and identity theft, but the same thing applies to wearing a seatbelt when you drive a car. 99% of the time you won't need it. But accidents happen. You may think that everyone in the cafe is there just for coffee, but you never know. Ok, so chances are that at a local internet cafe you're not going to get someone trying to steal your credit card number or Facebook password.

But what about a hotel? Ever connected to wifi on a business trip or vacation? With hundreds of rooms, a restaurant and bar, and staff members connecting too, you really don't know who's on, and what kind of person they are. What about in the airport or even worse - the train station where anyone can waltz in and connect. Everyone is one Firefox addon from seeing your stuff.

So that's the why. What about the how?

Virtual private networks encrypt your online traffic and send it through a virtual tunnel to a private server network located somewhere outside of the network you're currently connected to. This allows you to make use of the internet connection locally, but connect to the private servers remotely, thus changing your IP. So in a nutshell, you remove your visible presence from the wifi connection, encrypt your traffic so it's un-readable to other users, and tunnel it so it's nearly impossible to intercept. Pretty cool, right?

OpenVPN for Mac is pretty much the strongest type of VPN you can use for OS/X. There are other types of VPN and tunneling - L2TP actually uses 168-bit encryption while OpenVPN is 128-bit standard - but most services will recommend OpenVPN as the best wifi security for Mac. There's no hardware needed for the VPN connection, and it's downloaded and installed directly from the website. VPNs can also be use on iOS devices, as well as other computer operating systems. One cool feature of the IP hiding software is that you can choose an IP from a different country and access sites that have been restricted based on IP.


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