On weekends, I’ve noticed that a disproportionate number of hits on this site come from Hotels. How do I know this? It’s easy really – I just look at the Label IP Address in my site’s hit counter (StatCounter), which gives me this information.
Don’t be alarmed; no personal information of any kind can be deduced from the statistical information StatCounter generates.
Your Internet Browser provides much more information to every web site that you visit. For example, the information below is available to every web site I visit. I have X’d out certain parameters for privacy purposes only.
Your computer is connecting to the internet at xxxxxxx, xxxx, in the xxxx, with an IP address of 24.xxx.xxx.xxx
Your User Agent is being reported as: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:22.214.171.124) Gecko/Firefox/3.6
Your Referrer is being reported as: http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&client= ient=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en
Your IP Address is 24.xxx.xxx.xxx
Your Host Name is x2xx- xxx.xxx.xxx.cable.net
As opposed to this, the following graphic illustrates what StatCounter’s report looks like. I’ve used an example from a Police agency in the UK, since I’m reasonable sure this is a hardened site, rather than a Hotel, which I’m reasonable sure would not be a hardened site.
So what kind of information can I gather from this Hotel traffic? Well, nothing personal, or of any real value, except this; these Hotel guests are potentially playing with fire.
Hotel room Internet connections including both Wi-Fi, and wired, are notoriously vulnerable to hacking. This vulnerability is not restricted to Hotel rooms of course. Other vulnerable locations include internet cafes, and public terminals in libraries.
The YouTube video “Sidejacking using Ferret and Hamster”, is a good illustration of just how easy sidejacking (session hijacking) can be.
Hotspot Shield, is a free solution which uses both a proxy server and encryption technology, which can increase security (particularly at off site locations), and protect your privacy as well, by effectively hiding your IP address .
According to the developers “Hotspot Shield creates a virtual private network (VPN) between your laptop or iPhone, and our Internet gateway. This impenetrable tunnel prevents snoopers, hackers, ISP’s, from viewing your web browsing activities, instant messages, downloads, credit card information or anything else you send over the network”.
Upside: I’ve been using this application for some time now, and it does exactly as it says. Despite the fact this is a proxy service, I find no slowdown in accessing sites, pages, or streaming content.
I’m satisfied with its performance – it works well, and is easily turned on/off via the system tray icon.
Incidentally, Hotspot Shield was named as one of the best free applications of 2008 by PC Magazine.
Downside: This is an ad supported application and it puts banner ads on every web page that you view.
Securing your web session with HTTPS encryption
Secure your data & personal information online
Hiding your IP address for your privacy online
Securing your connection at both your home Internet network and public Internet networks (both wired and wireless)
Allowing you to access all content privately without censorship; bypass firewalls
Protecting you from snoopers at Wi-Fi hotspots, hotels, airports, corporate offices and ISP hubs
Recommendation: If you’re looking for a free application which will raise your level of security and keep your web surfing private, Hotspot Shield is definitely worth a look.
System requirements: Windows 7, Vista, XP, 2000, Vista. Mac OS X (10.4 Tiger), Mac OS X (10.5 Leopard), Mac OS X (10.6 Snow Leopard)
Download at: Major Geeks
If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.