Setting Up A Safe Home-Network in a Hotel-style living situation.

Micah Martin
Micah Martin used Ask the Experts™
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I am new to learning computers, but I needto learn as much as I can and one of the areas that's been most difficult has been networks. I have an HP DeskTop computer and a Lenovo ThinkPad, both of which I use and also two Android phones. All of these things live with me in my small room. The network is set up via wireless adapter from my desktop and the entire building is seriviced by a broadband internet connection. This is kind of a hotel with some guests like myself staying for a prolonged period of time, so I often see a lot of people online and sometimes on my network. I want to make my own safe network with VPN and Firewalls and DNS and proxy... as much as I can do to stay invisable to prying eyes.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)
Most Valuable Expert 2012
Expert of the Year 2018

Commented:
The network is set up via wireless adapter from my desktop and the entire building is serviced by a broadband internet connection

Use a small wireless router that has a strong password to maintain it. Set the WAN interface to the broadband internet. Set the internal subnet to one of your choice. Make sure the firewall is set to block remote management WAN access and set to block standard attacks. That means people are very unlikely to get into your internal network - they cannot see it.

Then, when / if you move, take this wireless router with you to the next home.
Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/Storage

Commented:
If the living space ISP connection is via RJ45, so wired, then pop in to a local computer supply store (Frye's, BestBuy, ETC.) and pick-up a wired router.

Plug the WAN port into the hotel ISP connection port.

Plug your devices into the LAN (pick-up some patch cables) ports.

I suggest doing this.

WiFi in a densely packed area will be a pain given the competition between all of the WiFi devices in the area.

EDIT: I suggest setting up OneDrive on the PC/Laptop and phones to use as a sync point for all data that needs to be shared. Plus, that gives a bit of a cloud based backup. NOTE: A true backup is a copy that is not connected to anything. So, external USB hard disks in rotation for example.
Micah MartinESL teacher

Author

Commented:
Thanks both of you. John, yes my adapter is not much bigger than a pen drive. And, Phillip, unfortunally I don't have the Wan plugs, if by which you mean the things we used to plug phones into. You'll have to forgive me. I'm basically computer illiterate as you have probably noticed, but I'm trying really hard here to fix that. There is no way to plug the computers into the wall like the good 'ol days, but I'm sure that would be safer, right? But actaully I've lived here, about six months now and haven't had a day without a good signal. I've had online access 24/7 since I got here. It's more the hackers spying on me that I'm worried about, and I also want to learn how to make a secure network for my own sake in the future.

John, I'm not sure exactly what you meant by "supported by a strong password". I assume you meant that after I install it and set up the network I should assign a strong password to it. Is that right?

And the next question for both of you... Taking John's route, I tried to log directly into the broadband thinking that it would bne safer than using an existing network signal. I don't know if that's true or not or how much it matters, but just for the sake of learning. What happens is I get this message saying the modem made an error. I'm thinking that the real problem is that the modem is probabaly too far away and cannot send a signal way up here. Should I just connect to any signal to set up my network?

Thanks guys
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)
Most Valuable Expert 2012
Expert of the Year 2018

Commented:
You can manage the wireless/wired router by a web address, nominally 192.168.1.1.  There is a default user name and password. Change the password to something strong so only you can manage the device.

Separately, the wireless setup should have WPA2 or AES security and a very strong pass phrase that cannot be guessed.

These actions will help keep you safe
Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/Storage

Commented:
It is not a good idea to enable router management via WiFi. That should be done via patch cable.

If there is no RJ45 port on the laptop the Microsoft Surface USB Ethernet Adapter is plug and play with any Windows 10 device. I suggest picking one up.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)
Most Valuable Expert 2012
Expert of the Year 2018

Commented:
To Philip's point, I have a Wired Router here with a Wireless Router attached to it. I manage the Wireless router via an Ethernet port. You have a Desktop computer with a LAN cable.  Attach this to your wireless router (if you only have one router) and manage it by the wired interface.
Micah MartinESL teacher

Author

Commented:
Thanks again. Trying what you said took me to the service providers log in screen and I found the default username, but for the password they said I'd need to look at the bottom of the modem or router itself. The only machine I'm aware of is as far as I'm aware neither of those things. I'll past a picutre of it here. Whatever it is has no serial number. Maybe I need to wait to talk to the owner tomorrow and get it that way...?
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)
Most Valuable Expert 2012
Expert of the Year 2018

Commented:
Maybe I need to wait to talk to the owner tomorrow and get it that way...?

Yes, or possibly use your own router you can attach to their system (WAN port on your router)
Micah MartinESL teacher

Author

Commented:
Phillip, sorry I'm totally daft about these things. I thought the RJ45 plug you were talking about was something to connect the computer into the wall. There are no plugs in the wall, but I do have them in my computer.

Does the Microsoft Surface USB Ethernet Adapter allow me to just use ehternet connection instead of broadband? Is that a better/safer option than using WIFI?
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)
Most Valuable Expert 2012
Expert of the Year 2018

Commented:
Surface USB adapter will work or use your HP Desktop machine.
Top Expert 2016

Commented:
In your situation it is like living next to a coffee shop that offers wireless. Since you have no access to the infrastructure your only recourse is to use a vpn at all times. Ethernet connection or wifi connection is exactly the same in your environment. What the infrastructure owner could do is  configure their wifi router to isolate all the access points assuming that their router supports this feature.

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