Browsing/Banking when on the road

 

Greetings,

This message is prompted by Amazon's Daily Deal (the Bonus Deal) today ending at midnight. It's for either of two refurbed Chromebook models with lifetime 200MB/month free 4G access through T-Mobile. (Interesting: it's sold by Woot but Fulfilled by Amazon.)

I don't travel too often but when I do, I always worry about wifi web browsing with my laptop, even for things like email username/password, etc. I've never done any online banking while on the road using wifi, as much as I really wanted to at times.

It seems that using the cellular network to access sites is very much safer than using wifi. Correct? Is connecting a Chromebook via the cellular network safe enough to do online banking, etc. without jumping through added hoops?

I realize that with wifi, I could use VPN for added safety, but each time I look into it, VPN seems such a hassle and is an added expense that I'd rarely need.

I do realize that 200MB can be used up pretty quickly but for my uses, it's probably enough and if needed, added data can be purchased.

Your thoughts?

.

Well, if you have an existing data plan on your phone, you could tether a tablet, and just use your cell by creating a wifi hotspot. Or, check to see if your bank has an app for your phone.

--
nüvi 3790T | nüvi 775T | Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution inevitable ~ JFK

I keep

I keep a pay as you go data for my tablet. 250 mb for $15.07 a month. If I am out and need a secure connection I use this. If no secure connection is needed I use wifi. So far I have not used more that 11 mb of data in any one month. Don't need it often but when I do it sure comes in handy.
It is at&t pay as you go for tablet.

--
Mary, Nuvi 2450, Garmin Viago, Honda Navigation, Nuvi 750 (gave to son)

Thanks to you both

mgarledge wrote:

I keep a pay as you go data for my tablet. 250 mb for $15.07 a month. If I am out and need a secure connection I use this. If no secure connection is needed I use wifi. So far I have not used more that 11 mb of data in any one month. Don't need it often but when I do it sure comes in handy.
It is at&t pay as you go for tablet.

Thanks. I liked reading the amount of data you use.

Reading between the lines of juggernaut's and your responses, am I right in thinking that using cellular data with your devices that you feel secure enough to do online banking without someone grabbing your data coming to and going from your device out in public? I hope so since I went ahead and ordered the Chromebook. Amazon sold out already with the 32GB model like I ordered but still has the 16GB model available. In any event, it'll be new and challenging to see how Chromebooks work rather than the old Windows devices and the occasional Android device I'm so used to.

.

Craig, whether by an app or your bank's site, it will be https encrypted. I don't have any concern at this point using my cell provider's network anymore than my home connection.

I do avoid wifi AP's that aren't mine, though.

--
nüvi 3790T | nüvi 775T | Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution inevitable ~ JFK

I use the data for checking bank and credit cards when away

When away, if I need to, I have used the data even in Europe. In Europe I used my credit card for more Euros and I wanted to make sure they charged me what was supposed to be charged so I used the data to check my credit card account. So far all has been ok.
Before going to Europe I bought the international pay as you go data from at&t, $30 for 125 mb. Most of the time I used wifi from McDonalds or our hotels but when I needed to look at secure items I used the data plan and when we got home I had only used a very few mb in the two weeks. Like I said, I don't us it much but when I do need it I have it.

--
Mary, Nuvi 2450, Garmin Viago, Honda Navigation, Nuvi 750 (gave to son)

VPNs--

If I don't know the network, I use a VPN for most things (anything involving a password). Yes, browser extensions such as EFF's HTTPS Everywhere help -- but if I'm not sure, I'll use a VPN, or just wait.

--
Nuvi 2460, 680, DATUM Tymserve 2100, Trimble Thunderbolt, Ham radio, Macintosh, Linux, Windows

Being in IT...

I have a better than average firewall at home. If I travel and don't have a personal hotspot (and before I got my iPhone), I would just about always VPN into my home network. I never had to jump through hoops to send SMTP email from my laptop. My provider's SMTP servers are accessible from my home network, so with the VPN, I could send mail from anywhere as though I was home. An added bonus was that I was able to remote control my servers or desktop using standard Microsoft RDP. No LogMeIn for me. (and no associated monthly fees either)

--
Striving to make the NYC Metro area project the best.

Firewall gives little protection

camerabob wrote:

I have a better than average firewall at home. ...

You do remember that the firewall protects data exchanges with your computer. It does NOT encrypt the data neither on the WiFi side nor on the internet side.

HTTPS, VPN, and using the 4G network give you some protection all the way from the computer to the financial server.

Alternatively a good password with WAP will take care of the WiFi side. For the other side, HTTPS goes part of the way, but a VPN is better but can be costly and doesn't really protect you between the VPN server and the financial server. Only HTTPS can to that or tries anyway

WAP?!

I presume you meant WPA. WPA2 is the only way to go.

--
nüvi 3790T | nüvi 775T | Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution inevitable ~ JFK

for casual users

Knowing the access point you will use is from a reliable source isreally the first leve of protection. Don't sign nto just any "open" network but pick one at say a Starbucks MacDonalds or any host of known retailers. Never mark the public network as anything as public and clearly understand that you do not share any thung or allow anyone to share files with you across a public network.

Use good passwords, I believe the recommendation now is 8 characters with at least one being upper case and at least one digit.

Personally, I rarely capitalize the first charachter and usually throw a digit or two somewhere in the middle. Usng zeros for the letter O or a 3 for the letter E is also a bad idea. I often use 2 short words with a digit between them. Don't be squeamish about picking ew passwords for use in hotels and coffee shops, you can always go back to the onew you use at home when you return.

Use throw-away email addresses. a lot of providers allow you to use several aliases. Forward your normal email to an alias, then deactivate the forward and alias when you return. It's not difficult, just be certain where you connect is a legitimate connection and not "Free_Public_WiFi" or some other suspicious name. In other words, think before you connect.

--
Illiterate? Write for free help.

T-Mobile

I use a T-Mobile wireless hotspot while traveling the country, and am generally pleased with their service.

T-Mobile's data coverage is decent, but not the best. Some places, such as Florida, have excellent service. Other places, such as the entire state of Montana, have no data coverage. Their 4G service is very fast. Older cellular data formats such as Edge, can be painfully slow.

Here's a series of maps comparing coverage for the major providers. Pick what works best for you. You can always use a second carrier via secure wifi with your Chromebook.

http://www.prepaidphonenews.com/2011/09/coverage-maps-for-al...

Cat 5 is still around

Most of the hotel chains I use when travelling offer both WiFi and in room cat 5 jacks. I carry a cat 5 cable and use it with my laptop as a first choice when working with sensitive data. Otherwise, I tether my Ipad or laptop to my smartphone via a personal hotspot. There have been too many public WiFi incidents among friends and extended family to risk using it for personal data IMO.

As is the case with Mgarledge, I find data use associated with doing Email, banking etc. while traveling is minimal, usually under 10MB / month, with my moderate travel schedule.

Very interesting charts.

EV Driver wrote:

I use a T-Mobile wireless hotspot while traveling the country, and am generally pleased with their service.

T-Mobile's data coverage is decent, but not the best. Some places, such as Florida, have excellent service. Other places, such as the entire state of Montana, have no data coverage. Their 4G service is very fast. Older cellular data formats such as Edge, can be painfully slow.

Here's a series of maps comparing coverage for the major providers. Pick what works best for you. You can always use a second carrier via secure wifi with your Chromebook.

http://www.prepaidphonenews.com/2011/09/coverage-maps-for-all-prepaid-carriers.html

My son was in Montana for a couple of months with a regular plan on Verizon and the data was next to nothing in most places there.

The charts are great information. I didn't know that prepaid AT&T data, which I have, was so limited in the mid west states.

--
Mary, Nuvi 2450, Garmin Viago, Honda Navigation, Nuvi 750 (gave to son)

I do

jale wrote:
camerabob wrote:

I have a better than average firewall at home. ...

You do remember that the firewall protects data exchanges with your computer. It does NOT encrypt the data neither on the WiFi side nor on the internet side.

Between the high level of encryption for the tunnel between my laptop and firewall, and using HTTPS from my HOME NETWORK via that VPN tunnel, I feel pleased that I'm in good hands. Anyone wishing to sniff my data would have to break 2 levels of encryption (at the minimum) to find out anything about my traffic.

--
Striving to make the NYC Metro area project the best.

Early this morning before

Early this morning before leaving for work I had a nice response typed in and hit the post comment button and the site hung, losing my post, then I had to leave ....

Basically what I had offered was ....

I have found that most "free" wifi is not secure, they tell you as much when you log on (most of the time) so I would not use it for anything more than simple browsing.

I have used my cell service to conduct business transactions with no problems but remember, nothing is cyber land is 100% safe regardless of how you get there.

That said, here are some common data usage numbers ...

http://www.pcworld.com/article/252009/which_smartphone_apps_...

http://gizmodo.com/5927044/9-ways-to-cut-your-smartphone-dat...

http://lifehacker.com/5957947/how-to-figure-out-which-apps-a...

--
. 2 Garmin DriveSmart 61 LMT-S, Nuvi 2689, 2 Nuvi 2460, Zumo 550, Zumo 450, Uniden R3 radar detector with GPS built in, includes RLC info. Uconnect 430N Garmin based, built into my Jeep. .

False sense of security?

bdhsfz6 wrote:

Most of the hotel chains I use when travelling offer both WiFi and in room cat 5 jacks. I carry a cat 5 cable and use it with my laptop as a first choice when working with sensitive data.

How's that any different than using hotel WiFi? You'll likely be in the same network as other hotel WiFi users. Attackers may be sniffing all traffic in the network, wired or wireless.

T-Mobile is unlimited data

The data limit is only for fast 4G speed. What they actually do is prioritize data after you exceed your limit. That means that in the middle of the night you could still get 4G. But on a busy tower at a busy time, speed will likely be slower, but could still be 3G.

?

Some here think its paranoia when you don't use your driveway as the "HOME" setting, but they do so.

Then the same people are worried about WiFI access.
For the last 13 years I have and am doing extensive traveling across the continent and into Mexico.

I have never had a problem with a security breach yet.

Unless your name is maybe "OBAMA", you are flattering yourself that there is an interest in your transactions!

--
Nuvi 350 long gone, Nuvi 855LMT, Nuvi 2797LMT, SmartDrive 50 LMT-HD, 3790LMT now my daughters. Using Windows 10. DashCam A108C with GPS.

Security is all a term of degree

Security of a network really is just a term of degree. Nothing is fully secure. If you don't trust a network, you really shouldn't be using it.

wifi network security can be easier to monitor, but really any network can let other users monitor and access data from other users on the network.

The easiest source of monitoring traffic would be somebody with admin privileges over the router, etc. I can access a surprisingly large amount of information from anybody who uses my network at home.

and

chewbacca wrote:
bdhsfz6 wrote:

Most of the hotel chains I use when travelling offer both WiFi and in room cat 5 jacks. I carry a cat 5 cable and use it with my laptop as a first choice when working with sensitive data.

How's that any different than using hotel WiFi? You'll likely be in the same network as other hotel WiFi users. Attackers may be sniffing all traffic in the network, wired or wireless.

a great many hotels don't have wired networks. That Cat 5 jack is attached to a cable leading to a wireless device which is connected to the WiFi.

--
Illiterate? Write for free help.

False Security?

I did not mean to imply that using a cat 5 connection in a hotel is totally secure. As pointed out in other posts in this thread as well as the news media lately, no data is totally secure in cyberspace. Professional hackers can attack any network in a multitude of places, including the one you use at home.

It’s the amateurs you need to worry about when travelling. Using a cat 5 connection in a hotel eliminates the possibility of accidentally connecting to a phishing WiFi hotspot set up to mirror the legitimate hotel WiFi. These bogus hotspots can be set up in adjacent buildings, cars parked in parking lots or even other hotel rooms.

I stayed at a Best Western two years ago where there were actually TWO of these bogus sites in operation. They all looked identical on the “Available Wireless Networks” laptop screen. When I questioned hotel management, I was told they were aware of the issue and had reported it to the authorities who were unable to locate the source due to the sporadic operation of the sites. The desk clerk advised me not to use WiFi and actually loaned me a cat 5 cable! I’ve been carrying one with me ever since.

The added bonus of using cat 5 is the noticeable increase in the data transfer rate.

I particularly like jonny5’s advice: If you don't trust a network, you really shouldn't be using it.

Thanks!

Thanks for all the info, folks. I have learned or verified a lot—and maybe because I started the thread, I don't feel this thread to be comparable to "What location do you use for your GPS' 'Home' location?" rolleyes

I did buy the Amazon refurbed Chromebook, somewhat because I wanted to see how a laptop Chromebook works, and also because I didn't have a cellular data connectable device and I wanted one for my occasional travel. The free lifetime 200MB/month of data with the HP Chromebooks was the tipping point that made me hit the Buy key.

That being said, the Chromebook experience is oddly similar but different to using a Windows laptop as I've done in the past. The transition would have been easier if I had used my Windows devices' Chrome browser more. The more I practice (and organize my Favorites and fully configure and use the LastPass password manager), the happier I am. I will use the Chromebook with cellular data when on the road.

The most noticeable change with a Chromebook is the almost instant boot and shut down.

??

Box Car wrote:
chewbacca wrote:
bdhsfz6 wrote:

Most of the hotel chains I use when travelling offer both WiFi and in room cat 5 jacks. I carry a cat 5 cable and use it with my laptop as a first choice when working with sensitive data.

How's that any different than using hotel WiFi? You'll likely be in the same network as other hotel WiFi users. Attackers may be sniffing all traffic in the network, wired or wireless.

a great many hotels don't have wired networks. That Cat 5 jack is attached to a cable leading to a wireless device which is connected to the WiFi.

I’m no expert and please advise if I’m missing something but I don’t see why a hotel would do this. Assuming they have their own wired or satellite internet provider and not hijacking the WiFi signal from Mc Donalds next door, why not plug the cat 5 wiring into their direct wired router?

Since the hotel has already made the investment in the room Ethernet jacks and cat 5 wiring, I don’t see the economic advantage in converting it to WiFi.

I can’t speak for every establishment but It has been my experience in hotels with both cat 5 and WiFi service, the cat 5 is always faster. If the cat 5 were converted to WiFi, it seems to me the data transfer rate would be the same for both.

.

bdhsfz6 wrote:

Using a cat 5 connection in a hotel eliminates the possibility of accidentally connecting to a phishing WiFi hotspot set up to mirror the legitimate hotel WiFi. These bogus hotspots can be set up in adjacent buildings, cars parked in parking lots or even other hotel rooms.

You got a valid point there. Yes, wired connection eliminates the possibility of connecting to evil twin (hotspots) where attackers are waiting to capture data that passes their wireless router or waiting to steal your credit card info. However, most websites offer full end-to-end encryption, even your Google searches are now encrypted. That's an extra work for the attacker to decrypt the data, if that's possible at all.

.

CraigW wrote:

I do realize that 200MB can be used up pretty quickly but for my uses, it's probably enough and if needed, added data can be purchased.

That ought to be enough for light use. I've been using t-mobile free 200MB with my tablet since November 2013. I've never used up all 200MB. The trick is to never turn on cellular data unless I'm on the road and really need it. Don't watch video on cellular data either.

CraigW wrote:

The free lifetime 200MB/month of data with the HP Chromebooks was the tipping point that made me hit the Buy key.

T-Mobile free 200MB/month also applies to a variety of tablet devices (iOS or Android) for life.

last time i did

bdhsfz6 wrote:

I’m no expert and please advise if I’m missing something but I don’t see why a hotel would do this. Assuming they have their own wired or satellite internet provider and not hijacking the WiFi signal from Mc Donalds next door, why not plug the cat 5 wiring into their direct wired router?

Since the hotel has already made the investment in the room Ethernet jacks and cat 5 wiring, I don’t see the economic advantage in converting it to WiFi.

I can’t speak for every establishment but It has been my experience in hotels with both cat 5 and WiFi service, the cat 5 is always faster. If the cat 5 were converted to WiFi, it seems to me the data transfer rate would be the same for both.

Last time I did any cabling work (and I held both an electrician's license and certifications from several manufacturers) Cat 5E was going for about $1 per meter. It hasn't really gotten much cheaper for plenum grade. Jacks, outlet covers and the like ran about $15 for 2 jacks and a wall plate. If you added the mud ring (frame) for the drywall and not a actual box, add another $1. A box would add $2-3 per outlet. Patch panels aren't cheap either, these go for over $100 for 24 ports. Now, add the labor for pulling, terminating and testing you begin to run unit some real $$$. A lot of cities and states require electrical permits and inspections, so that's even more $$$ and then add fireproofing all the firewall penetrations it's even more. We haven't begun to add in the cost of tie-wraps and cable hangers. All told, the minimum cost, per cable, would average out to around $200. Those prices are pretty much true from 15 years ago.

A WAP or wireless access point runs about $200 for commercial grade and that WAP can cover at least half of a hotel floor or over 15 rooms. Are you beginning to see the cost savings to the hotel?

--
Illiterate? Write for free help.

Thanks for the Information.

Box Car wrote:
bdhsfz6 wrote:

I’m no expert and please advise if I’m missing something but I don’t see why a hotel would do this. Assuming they have their own wired or satellite internet provider and not hijacking the WiFi signal from Mc Donalds next door, why not plug the cat 5 wiring into their direct wired router?

Since the hotel has already made the investment in the room Ethernet jacks and cat 5 wiring, I don’t see the economic advantage in converting it to WiFi.

I can’t speak for every establishment but It has been my experience in hotels with both cat 5 and WiFi service, the cat 5 is always faster. If the cat 5 were converted to WiFi, it seems to me the data transfer rate would be the same for both.

Last time I did any cabling work (and I held both an electrician's license and certifications from several manufacturers) Cat 5E was going for about $1 per meter. It hasn't really gotten much cheaper for plenum grade. Jacks, outlet covers and the like ran about $15 for 2 jacks and a wall plate. If you added the mud ring (frame) for the drywall and not a actual box, add another $1. A box would add $2-3 per outlet. Patch panels aren't cheap either, these go for over $100 for 24 ports. Now, add the labor for pulling, terminating and testing you begin to run unit some real $$$. A lot of cities and states require electrical permits and inspections, so that's even more $$$ and then add fireproofing all the firewall penetrations it's even more. We haven't begun to add in the cost of tie-wraps and cable hangers. All told, the minimum cost, per cable, would average out to around $200. Those prices are pretty much true from 15 years ago.

A WAP or wireless access point runs about $200 for commercial grade and that WAP can cover at least half of a hotel floor or over 15 rooms. Are you beginning to see the cost savings to the hotel?

The pricing you quote may be accurate for new or recent construction on a small scale. The volume buying power of contractors bidding on projects involving major hotel chains would certainly reduce these costs. For example, Belkin is currently offering cat 5E cable in 1000 foot spools for 12 cents per foot.

Also, the costs of the jack, cover plate, mud ring or box along with the cat 5 wire from the room to the WAP should not be considered since they would be common to both a pure cat 5 system and a WiFi hybrid.

Over time, there are also maintenance costs associated with any electronic device as well as the power it consumes.

Many of the older hotel chains I use were wired with cat 5 before the WiFi era. As you pointed out earlier in the thread, many newer hotels do not provide Ethernet jacks, likely due to the cost factor you mention. If they are available, I use them.

I'm sure there are other factors to consider here. While I find these conversations both interesting and educational, I’m concerned about further hijacking CraigW’s original post. Perhaps we should continue the discussion through direct POI Factory channels. In any case, I appreciate your knowledgeable input.

VPN is the only safe way to do this, and it's not a hassle

I was on the road for months straight earlier this year. In my experience, cat 5 connections to the web are increasingly hard to find in hotels. Some hotels have cat 5 ports that no longer work. Even hotels that used to offer it a few years ago have gone wireless-only because most people have wireless devices--and many devices such as tablets and notebooks have **no** way to connect to a hard-wired network--and wireless is easier for hotels to install and maintain than hardwire connections to each room.

I used a VPN service, Private Internet Access, with my laptop. It was $7 a month earlier this year, and you don't have to subscribe for a long time if you don't want to. It did not appreciably slow up my browsing or otherwise cause problems. They'll take a one-month subscription or allow you to say, pay for $20 worth of time, about three months. If you're streamplaying videos or it otherwise impairs performance, you can turn it off after logging in with your password just by closing it as you would any other program.

I found this article from PC Magazine rating VPN encryption services:
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2403388,00.asp
As the article says, "A VPN service protects [users] if they accidentally connect to a rogue hotspot or if someone is sniffing all the data flowing through the network." Can it be beat? I wouldn't be surprised especially as it says if you are using a website that itself does not encrypt data [no https:]... but not easily with https: sites if the service is good. It is the best way to go if you have no choice but to use public hotspots as in hotels, airports, or restaurants with financial or other sensitive data.

To pay for it, since I was already traveling when I found the article and didn't want to type my credit card number on a hotel network, I did what PIA allows and paid for it with a store gift card I bought in a chain store on the road. (Note, they won't take iTunes gift cards though for some reason.) I had no problems with Private Internet Access and highly recommend it.

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JMoo On

wrong cable type

bdhsfz6 wrote:

The pricing you quote may be accurate for new or recent construction on a small scale. The volume buying power of contractors bidding on projects involving major hotel chains would certainly reduce these costs. For example, Belkin is currently offering cat 5E cable in 1000 foot spools for 12 cents per foot.

Also, the costs of the jack, cover plate, mud ring or box along with the cat 5 wire from the room to the WAP should not be considered since they would be common to both a pure cat 5 system and a WiFi hybrid.

Over time, there are also maintenance costs associated with any electronic device as well as the power it consumes.

Many of the older hotel chains I use were wired with cat 5 before the WiFi era. As you pointed out earlier in the thread, many newer hotels do not provide Ethernet jacks, likely due to the cost factor you mention. If they are available, I use them.

I'm sure there are other factors to consider here. While I find these conversations both interesting and educational, I’m concerned about further hijacking CraigW’s original post. Perhaps we should continue the discussion through direct POI Factory channels. In any case, I appreciate your knowledgeable input.

Commercial buildings are required to use plenum rated cable unless it is enclosed in conduit. According to Newark Electronics Cat 5E CMP is going for $390.24 for 1000 feet. That's for Belden cable, a common choice for professional installers. Bulk purchases, drops the price by only $30 per box, but jobs are normally quoted using the single box price.

Cat 5E jacks are $29.50 in packs of 10, face plates are $13.50 for 10. If I remember correctly, we used a ball park labor estimate that an experienced installer could do 10 cables per day. Now, that's the time to layout the runs, open the ceilings, pull the cables, secure it in the ceilings, terminate and test. That includes the termination closet work of assembling the rack, installing the patch panels too.

The pulls where done normally with teams of 4 all the way through the terminations. It only took two to test, but that was one in the closet and the second going to each installed jack. Depending on the density, estimate 5 - 7 minutes each. In your hotel scenario with only one jack per room, it would be closer to 10 minutes per cable.

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