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can using a vpn network stop someone from capturing my network data

Posted on 2011-05-01
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i travel frequently for my work and am afraid when i send emails (pop account) that people monitoring the network i am connected to can capture my data in plain text.

what is the best way to have my emails transmit outside of their network? should i establish a VPN connection back to my office? if so, how and what hardware/software should i use?
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Question by:datatechdc
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by:wct296
ID: 35502082
Whilst nothing is completely secure - using a VPN will certainly make a huge step forward in keeping your private traffic across the internet safer.

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network - it is an encrypted data stream as such it is very hard to read the data travelling across it
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by:wct296
ID: 35502091
Sorry I omitted the last part of the question

If you are running a Microsoft Server, you can use the inbuilt VPN Server (RRAS)

Other options are
- Linux based firewall solution with VPN capabiltiies such as smoothwall or pfsense
- Hardware based firewall/router such as Cisco or Juniper networks offerings
- 3rd party software solutions such as the Cisco VPN Software

If you give us some more info about your infrastructure, we will be able to advise better
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by:Frabble
ID: 35502122
Alternatively, if the mail server allows SSL/TLS connections for SMTP/POP then use a mail client that supports this - even Outlook Express does. Mail sent and received is encrypted so is kept private from traffic monitoring.
One issue you may have is the ports used may be blocked but then you could have the same problem with a VPN client.
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by:datatechdc
ID: 35502125
so if do connect to a VPN network, all of the traffic then flows through the VPN to the office and out to the internet from there?
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by:chakko
ID: 35503191
It can be both with a VPN (lookup Split tunnel for more information).

You should be able to configure so that all internet and communication goes through the VPN and then out to the internet from your office.

or you can setup so that only communication to your office goes through the VPN, other internet traffic goes out your local connection.
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by:datatechdc
ID: 35506157
where would i go to configure that?
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by:chakko
ID: 35506220
need to know which VPN you are using.  Is it Microsoft PPTP?  or something else?
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Author Comment

by:datatechdc
ID: 35506363
dont have one set up yet. what do you reccomend?

gmail is hosting my domain. can i use SSL with that?
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by:chakko
ID: 35506531
SSL is encryption (not the same as VPN).

If you just want to protect email and you use gmail, then SSL will accomplish that.

I think gmail is already SSL, you should check on that.  I don't use gmail, but when I setup gmail before for use it is on non-standard ports (makes me think it is already SSL encrypted).

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by:chakko
ID: 35506580
Looks like Gmail is already encrypted.  see this

http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=13287

A VPN is also encryption, but it will encrypt more or all communication (not just mail or websites) depending on how you setup.

If you already have a windows server at your office then using Microsoft PPTP VPN is free.

this discussion seems to have the information for Windows  2008 PPTP VPN.
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Software/System_Utilities/Remote_Access/VPN/Q_23610766.html
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Author Comment

by:datatechdc
ID: 35506698
what if i dont have a microsoft windows server at the office. is there a hosted vpn solution? example: logmein hamachi?
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chakko earned 2000 total points
ID: 35506836
If you don't have a server in your office then do you need a VPN?
is the VPN to just make your communication private for general use?

if yes, then take a look at some VPN service such as www.strongvpn.com

I don't use them and I don't use hamachi  - I think hamachi creates a vpn to another computer - probably not exactly what you want.

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Author Comment

by:datatechdc
ID: 35517358
great strongvpn is great.

so even if i am connected to someone else's network, if i use strongvpn then no matter what they cannot see my data? if they capture my data it would be encrypted right?
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Expert Comment

by:chakko
ID: 35726230
Correct, if your VPN is not in any split-tunnel config, then all data should go via the VPN and will be encrypted.


A split-tunnel VPN is where some communication goes via VPN and other communcation can go to normal lan/internet connection.
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