Is it safe to bank online on public wifi IF you're using a proxy/V

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17 Replies - 5968 Views - Last Post: 17 March 2016 - 07:58 PM

Poll: Is it safe to bank online on public wifi IF you're using a proxy/VPN? (3 member(s) have cast votes)

Is it safe to bank online on public wifi IF you're using a proxy/VPN?

  1. Yes, it's completely safe (1 votes [33.33%])

    Percentage of vote: 33.33%

  2. There is a small chance of someone capturing you're banking info. (1 votes [33.33%])

    Percentage of vote: 33.33%

  3. There is a high chance of someone capturing you're banking info. (1 votes [33.33%])

    Percentage of vote: 33.33%

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#1 Tom2442   User is offline

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Is it safe to bank online on public wifi IF you're using a proxy/V

Posted 13 March 2016 - 03:22 PM

Hi everyone, I was doing some research on proxies and VPNs and was curious about this. Is it safe to bank online using public wifi if you are using a proxy server or Virtual Private Network?
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Replies To: Is it safe to bank online on public wifi IF you're using a proxy/V

#2 no2pencil   User is offline

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Re: Is it safe to bank online on public wifi IF you're using a proxy/V

Posted 13 March 2016 - 03:29 PM

For starters, your online bank should have an https protocol. That ensures the communication between your computer & their network is encrypted. However if anything is active on your machine, the encryption is only in the transmission.

The only thing that the VPN is going to do is shield your internet connection from the local network. So if you were at Starbucks & someone was packet sniffing the network, your communication is sending from the VPN. But again, if the protocol from your bank is over an SSL, local network can't sniff your packets.

What is the common misconception here is that a single swift action is a silver bullet. As there are no details here, it's impossible to say if it's 100% safe. You can't just use a VPN & assume it's all good. Who else is on this VPN? How much of that traffic is being captured? If the VPN is compromised, you maybe better off on the free wifi.

I will also add, that at the end of the day, none of the above protects you from the Starbucks employee (whom you handed your card to) having written down the digits, or pencil marked it over a sheet of paper. Or alternatively, the guy that calls the bank & pretends to be you asking for your "lost card" to be replaced to his P.O. Box. When it comes to banking, & theft, very rarely is the hack on the network.
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#3 xclite   User is offline

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Re: Is it safe to bank online on public wifi IF you're using a proxy/V

Posted 13 March 2016 - 03:34 PM

Good information. Worth mentioning that shitty hardware vendors can render your SSL connection pointless:
https://en.wikipedia.../wiki/Superfish
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#4 Tom2442   User is offline

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Re: Is it safe to bank online on public wifi IF you're using a proxy/V

Posted 13 March 2016 - 03:34 PM

I didn't think about how secure/insecure the vpn or proxy server might be. And I thought SSL just secured the port of the server you're accessing, I didn't know it secured your local connection as well. Thanks for the reply!
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#5 no2pencil   User is offline

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Re: Is it safe to bank online on public wifi IF you're using a proxy/V

Posted 13 March 2016 - 03:39 PM

View Postxclite, on 13 March 2016 - 05:34 PM, said:

Good information. Worth mentioning that shitty hardware vendors can render your SSL connection pointless:
https://en.wikipedia.../wiki/Superfish


You mean like Dell's preinstalled Cert & someone else that just happened too... & Juniper's awesome NSA backdoor ...

If you are really paranoid, see if your bank offers a keyfob. I had one for my business banking account. When I hired someone that required access to the account, she got her own login & her own unique keyfob as well.

View PostTom2442, on 13 March 2016 - 05:34 PM, said:

I didn't think about how secure/insecure the vpn or proxy server might be.


& no one ever does, do they? It's assumed that a VPN is this magical place where everything is safe. It's just ANOTHER network, such as the free wifi you are using is not your home network.

Additionally, all a proxy is, is another server that you are bouncing your traffic across. It really isn't secure, it's just like calling from a friends phone. The "source" appears different to the requestor. Essentially you are telling the proxy server : "Hey, fetch this on my behalf"
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#6 jon.kiparsky   User is offline

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Re: Is it safe to bank online on public wifi IF you're using a proxy/V

Posted 13 March 2016 - 04:40 PM

The question is, what counts as "safe" to you? For me, I consider myself reasonably safe if I am exposed to only minor inconvenience and no loss of funds. One good way to achieve this is to use a bank which does good validation of transactions. I don't want to advertise, but in recent years, my bank has called me on a few occasions to validate suspicious-looking transactions, and then reversed them when I told them no, I'm not in Brasil at the moment (or wherever). Another good way to achieve this is to partition your banking. I keep a low dollar amount available for electronic transactions. My savings account is with a separate bank, and the only electronic access to it is my direct deposit. This limits my exposure pretty well - while I don't usually find myself tempted to do my banking from the coffee shop, I wouldn't feel any real worry about doing so.
So, all in all, I'm happier trusting my bank to handle things correctly, and minimizing the amount that I'm risking with them, than I would be in trusting some collection of sysadmins, and this has worked for me so far.
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#7 CTphpnwb   User is offline

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Re: Is it safe to bank online on public wifi IF you're using a proxy/V

Posted 14 March 2016 - 12:25 PM

I hope that if I'm using the bank's app on my iPhone then it's reasonably secure on any network. I don't worry too much about using the bank's web page either, except that tends to be done on my Mac. The larger screen makes it more likely that prying eyes might pick up information I'd rather they not have, and coffee shops are very public.

SSL is secure enough that I'd worry most about the platform. I would never bank on a Windows or Android box, no matter the network!
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#8 jon.kiparsky   User is offline

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Re: Is it safe to bank online on public wifi IF you're using a proxy/V

Posted 14 March 2016 - 12:52 PM

I'd like to know more about your reasoning. Why are you placing so much importance on the local hardware? How does the Apple branding protect you from evildoers?
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#9 modi123_1   User is offline

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Re: Is it safe to bank online on public wifi IF you're using a proxy/V

Posted 14 March 2016 - 01:04 PM

True story. On Windows I only bank when I have text-to-speak on with Cortana. I find most people vacate the area when I am reading the log in instructions and they are repeated blaring loud. Double safety on visual snooping as well as audible.

Spoiler

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#10 CTphpnwb   User is offline

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Re: Is it safe to bank online on public wifi IF you're using a proxy/V

Posted 14 March 2016 - 01:46 PM

View Postjon.kiparsky, on 14 March 2016 - 02:52 PM, said:

How does the Apple branding protect you from evildoers?

It's not that it's incredibly secure. It's just that the alternatives are incredibly insecure. Nothing has changed in the last 7 years to make me think Windows might be secure enough to do banking on, and Android is a security nightmare.
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#11 no2pencil   User is offline

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Re: Is it safe to bank online on public wifi IF you're using a proxy/V

Posted 15 March 2016 - 07:54 AM

Just read this article this morning, & thought it was worth linking here, as it's on topic :

Quote

4. VPNs are poorly adopted and can provide incomplete protection.

Although you can protect your privacy by using a VPN, Swire cited a survey which found a pathetic 16% of users in the US have ever used a VPN; many of those are believed to be business users. Upturn suggested, “Relative to other countries, the rate of VPN use in the US is among the lowest in the world.” The cost of a reliable VPN might be an adoption hurdle. There are free VPN services, but Upturn noted that “subscribers generally get what they pay for.”

Swire maintains that using a VPN blocks an ISP from seeing where you surf and the domains you visit, but Upturn says that’s not always true; a VPN is not a “privacy silver bullet.” It “depends entirely on the user’s VPN configuration – and it would be quite difficult for non-experts to tell whether their configuration is properly tunneling their DNS queries, let alone to know that this is a question that needs to be asked. This is particularly common for Windows users.”

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#12 baavgai   User is offline

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Re: Is it safe to bank online on public wifi IF you're using a proxy/V

Posted 15 March 2016 - 10:00 AM

Public wifi? Who's public wifi? Anyone can setup a hotspot. Sure, it says "Charbucks Ultrasecure Guest" but names are free.

Indeed, even if you are attached to who you think you are, I can knock you off that one and when you automatically search to reconnect you might get me. Oops, man in the middle; again.

Wifi is just radio. Even secure wifi can often share a lot they shouldn't in the wild. It's in the air, for anyone to play with.

Found this that gives a good overview: http://blog.privatew...ot-hacks-occur/

Curiously, after explaining a number of sploits, the article touts the value of VPN. The point of being a man in the middle is that are in the middle and the best schemes won't stop that man from lying to you. If you are a sniffer, my VPN will foil you. If I'm using your box as my access point, I'm doomed.

Oh, this link is even more fun: http://www.dailymail...11-minutes.html
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#13 Tom2442   User is offline

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Re: Is it safe to bank online on public wifi IF you're using a proxy/V

Posted 17 March 2016 - 10:43 AM

View PostCTphpnwb, on 14 March 2016 - 12:25 PM, said:

I hope that if I'm using the bank's app on my iPhone then it's reasonably secure on any network. I don't worry too much about using the bank's web page either, except that tends to be done on my Mac. The larger screen makes it more likely that prying eyes might pick up information I'd rather they not have, and coffee shops are very public.

SSL is secure enough that I'd worry most about the platform. I would never bank on a Windows or Android box, no matter the network!


I've heard generally that Apple is more secure than Android, but never really understood the specifics behind it. I thought part of it was because the screening process to get on the Apple app store is more rigorous than Android, which pretty much accepts anything. That's why I prefer android though haha, in case I wanted to get a first app created (I also know java a lot better than C as well).

View Postno2pencil, on 15 March 2016 - 07:54 AM, said:

Just read this article this morning, & thought it was worth linking here, as it's on topic :

Quote

4. VPNs are poorly adopted and can provide incomplete protection.

Although you can protect your privacy by using a VPN, Swire cited a survey which found a pathetic 16% of users in the US have ever used a VPN; many of those are believed to be business users. Upturn suggested, “Relative to other countries, the rate of VPN use in the US is among the lowest in the world.” The cost of a reliable VPN might be an adoption hurdle. There are free VPN services, but Upturn noted that “subscribers generally get what they pay for.”

Swire maintains that using a VPN blocks an ISP from seeing where you surf and the domains you visit, but Upturn says that’s not always true; a VPN is not a “privacy silver bullet.” It “depends entirely on the user’s VPN configuration – and it would be quite difficult for non-experts to tell whether their configuration is properly tunneling their DNS queries, let alone to know that this is a question that needs to be asked. This is particularly common for Windows users.”


Wow I knew most people wouldn't use VPN's but with security being such a big issue these days I can't believe it's only 16%. Interesting read, thanks for the post!

View Postbaavgai, on 15 March 2016 - 10:00 AM, said:

Public wifi? Who's public wifi? Anyone can setup a hotspot. Sure, it says "Charbucks Ultrasecure Guest" but names are free.

Indeed, even if you are attached to who you think you are, I can knock you off that one and when you automatically search to reconnect you might get me. Oops, man in the middle; again.

Wifi is just radio. Even secure wifi can often share a lot they shouldn't in the wild. It's in the air, for anyone to play with.

Found this that gives a good overview: http://blog.privatew...ot-hacks-occur/

Curiously, after explaining a number of sploits, the article touts the value of VPN. The point of being a man in the middle is that are in the middle and the best schemes won't stop that man from lying to you. If you are a sniffer, my VPN will foil you. If I'm using your box as my access point, I'm doomed.

Oh, this link is even more fun: http://www.dailymail...11-minutes.html


I lol'd pretty good at that 7 year old hacker... my prof calls them Script Kiddies. Anyone who knows how to copy and paste a script can pretty dangerous these days. Thanks baavgai
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#14 CTphpnwb   User is offline

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Re: Is it safe to bank online on public wifi IF you're using a proxy/V

Posted 17 March 2016 - 12:46 PM

View PostTom2442, on 17 March 2016 - 12:43 PM, said:

I've heard generally that Apple is more secure than Android, but never really understood the specifics behind it. I thought part of it was because the screening process to get on the Apple app store is more rigorous than Android, which pretty much accepts anything. That's why I prefer android though haha, in case I wanted to get a first app created (I also know java a lot better than C as well).

Well, IOS apps are generally (not always) written in Objective C, or lately, Swift.

Yes, Apple's screening process is much better than Googles. Building an OS with Java seems like asking for security trouble, but I think the biggest problem is that because of carriers, 99% of Android users are on an outdated version of the OS. That means hackers have had plenty of time to find the weak points.

As for publishing your own app, I'd prefer to write for an audience that's willing to pay for software. The goal is to make some money, after all!
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#15 CasiOo   User is offline

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Re: Is it safe to bank online on public wifi IF you're using a proxy/V

Posted 17 March 2016 - 03:28 PM

CTphpnwb Android uses Android Runtime (previously Dalvik was used) and not JRE. JRE has seen better days, there have lately been many critical security vulnerabilities, but lets not link JRE together with Android :)

I don't know the source of your statistics, but it seems you have a personal hate towards Android.

This post has been edited by CasiOo: 17 March 2016 - 03:30 PM

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