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O/T - Secure instant messaging
 

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PLee
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 3463
Location: Brooklyn, NY

4/2/17 8:54 AM

O/T - Secure instant messaging

I've been using Facebook Messenger. Someone suggested switching over to Telegram for security purposes. Any opinions here? I basically assume that any instant message is public, but it would be nice to know if there is an option out there that is secure.

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daddy-o
Joined: 12 Apr 2004
Posts: 2753
Location: Springfield

4/2/17 5:26 PM

Anyone you want to chat with securely will need to be subscribed to the service. Any service has weaknesses, Telegram has an open-source client but uses a proprietary server not open to review. It also does not default to end-to-end encryption, you need to select it. What's App is tied into Facebook and it requires your address book, which it shares with Facebook and now everybody knows they can reach you on What's App. Pardon my lapse into stream of conscience delivery.

You might consider a VPN service. They are more generalized and more expensive. This is what you use if you need to place and retrieve documents of your choice from a server in addition to messaging and limited individual file sharing.

A recent best-of list of VPN providers. Note: Industry leaders like RSA and HID are not included.

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 15512
Location: Portland, OR

4/2/17 6:17 PM

I am unclear as to what the ISP may sell. My main concern is my internet banking and anything money related, paypal etc.

I won't even logon to my bank stuff from hotels or wifi spots that are not mine...

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daddy-o
Joined: 12 Apr 2004
Posts: 2753
Location: Springfield

4/2/17 8:15 PM

That is not a bad strategy, to not trust unknown providers. Some of the ones that come up in hotels are obviously badly configured computers but they are still displayed as network providers.

Most phones these days have Internet Connection Sharing. I strongly advise setting it up and testing it with your computer and any other devices you want to use. Your signal between your phone and your computer will need credentials that you are in control of, they can be secure. Your signal between the phone and the cell tower requires expensive equipment to hijack. (Intriguing but too long for a forum reply.) So that's a decent connection in a pinch, but it uses your phone's data.

One thing to look for is on the browser address bar: a padlock on the far left, open or closed, and an info logo in the same place. Observe the address bar for CyclingForum when you log in. It is not secure. When you login to CyclingForum on a shared connection a kid who has been interested in hacking for a week can see what you are doing, your user name and password. So now you know what an insecure login looks like. Go to your bank, it probably has a closed padlock, it's secure. The kid can't read your information. They may be able to see you are browsing to a bank, but they can't see the transaction.

The thing with the padlock is: All of the information sent to the site, even before you start to login, is encrypted before it hits the network circuits inside your computer. Sometimes you get to see "https://" the S is secure. It is encrypted before it hits the edge of your computer. But like the postal service and sealed letters, anyone can read the envelope. The system needs to know the address where it is going.

I know most people who read this reply already know this stuff, but it's too important to not proselytize a little on a Sunday night.

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April
Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 6025
Location: Westchester/NYC

4/2/17 9:17 PM

Get a Mifi device. Then you don't have to worry about whether hotel's "free" wifi is also free for others to see your password.

I only turn it on when I need to do any financial transaction. Credit card, bank, etc.

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 15512
Location: Portland, OR

4/2/17 9:58 PM

My cell IS my main internet access. 3 of us here at the house and my Tivo.

Sounds like no additional app/software for tether security is needed?

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daddy-o
Joined: 12 Apr 2004
Posts: 2753
Location: Springfield

4/3/17 7:28 AM

I don't think there's any software beyond the phone's settings. I definitely wouldn't trust an app some anonymous programmer publishes on a "store." Between the likelihood of poor programming, poor programming tools and just plain old maliciousness there is no reason for the risk.

Just use best practices.

On your phone examine the default settings customize the ones you can, like network name SSID and password. If there are security settings raise them to the highest level that you can still connect with. Unless your computer is from before 2010, 9, 8, 7... you should be able to connect at the highest security your phone will offer. WPA2 most likely.

The phone-to-tower connection is not your responsibility, you just have to trust that one, and it's trustworthy.

Figure out a way to make your passwords use Upper/lower case, a digit and some punctuation.

Your sentence:
"Sounds like no additional app/software for tether security is needed?"
can be this password:
Sl0aa/s4tsin?
Thirteen characters, easy to remember, first letters, some substitution.

MiFi is Verizon's implementation of tethering and it's good and easy, and the same rules apply. AT&T calls theirs Wireless Hotspot.

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 15512
Location: Portland, OR

4/3/17 9:03 AM

I have complete confidence in my password creations. Suffice to say that being an administrator on 15 or so clients servers including at a hospital [JACO] for 10 years, I have some experience here. I don't have the same password in two places, and combinations of characters are as bizarre as could be imagined perhaps.

And it would take mac spoofing and a wacky passworder to get on my wifi.

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daddy-o
Joined: 12 Apr 2004
Posts: 2753
Location: Springfield

4/3/17 11:28 AM

Most of the security advice I give is for the lurker.

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dan emery
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 5704
Location: Maine

4/3/17 5:16 PM

Complete confidence

So your security is better than the Pentagon, DNC, and Angela Merkle?

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