[How-To] Stay safe while surfing from a Cybercafe

Manish from Hyderabad says

I like your blog and have been reading it since few weeks. I understand from your previous posts that there are many tools to crack and hack passwords and sniff data over the internet. I have therefore installed all the necessary antivirus and firewalls, however, i do surf a lot from a public cybercafe. In such a case is it possible for the cybercafe ownder to monitor my data?

For the information of Manish and other readers of this blog, i bring this post.

Stay Safe

The first and the foremost principle to remember while surfing the net is that a user’s Internet Service Provider ( ISP) can see any and everything that goes through the network. However, in cafe’s apart from the ISP’s the network owner or the people sitting at the next desktop can also have a look at your entire traffic depending on the network configurations. The desktops in a cafe are usually connected through a Hub and send or receive all the data from the Hub.

Leo Notemboom in his blog says

The “problem” with a hub is that it’s a dumb device – it sends everything it gets to everything connected to it. So when you send data through the hub, not only does the upstream internet connection see the data, as you want, but that data is also sent down the wires to your neighboring rooms. Any computers there should ignore it, but it’s there for the taking if they do not.

Therefore the question boils down to the fact that what steps should one ( as a end user) safeguard his interests in such a flawed environment. Follow the steps below and gear up for a secure session.

  • Use Https: Https is different from http. An Https connection is encrypted. What this means is that the data which travels between your computer browser and the webserver is encrypted; thereby making it useless for the sniffer. As a general rule of thumb, if you are doing something as sensitive as online banking or online shopping and the url doesn’t have an Https: STOP immediately. Its not safe.
  • Ensure your emails are encrypted: Emails usually are sent using a SMTP port which is not encrypted. This in turn means that your emails can be read by anyone who is snooping over the network.
  • Go for a Virtual Private Network (VPN): As we all know that not all websites are Https enabled and that not all email providers support encryption. In this case, the best solution for someone who is a regular junkie at the cafes is to go for a Virtual Private Network. Using a VPN you can access a safe computer ( be it at your office/ home) and route all the encrypted data through it. This ways the person snooping over your traffic gets nothing but some encrypted bits.
  • Hope this helps. Do comment and share your tricks on staying safe as well.

    Also read: How does Email Scanning Work?

    Computer Viruses: How do they work?

    How not to get Phished,Learn from Phil the Fish

    Top 3 FREE Antivirus Applications

    Do stay tuned to Technofriends for more, one of the best ways of doing so is by subscribing to our feeds. You can subscribe to Technofriends feed by clicking here.

    Cheers
    Vaibhav

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    3 Responses

    1. Nice 😀

    2. […] on June 8, 2008 by Vaibhav Pandey Data Backup is a crucial step towards a risk free and Healthy PC. However, the task of backing up the data manually is quite a boring job. The good […]

    3. Well probably VPN is the ultimate solution for network. But what about keyloggers and the programs that takes screenshots? What do you recommend for these?

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