lock, Kommunikation,sur le cadenas

Goldilocks, show me your (HTTPS) locks

Forget about that picture of a big bowl of porridge – or that way-too-soft bed. When it comes to online activity with a mobile phone, the only way to make sure that Goldilocks’ — or your own security — is “just right” is to lock it down with a VPN.

Desktop computers have it relatively easy when it comes to secure communication. In the upper left corner of the browser window, users can see a little green lock.

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The lock signifies that communication with the website site is encrypted via HTTPS. The communication is private and anyone trying to eavesdrop will have a difficult time decrypting the conversation.

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If there is no lock visible –  it means that the communication is in HTTP and that your messages, photos, or whatever are going out in an incredibly open format. And, you can be easily blocked from accessing certain sites by geo-restrictions.

goldilocks-bank-turk

By paying attention to the lock symbol – and by using the HTTPS Everywhere feature baked into the Avira Scout browser – users can keep their online communications with their laptops more secure and private.

Look quick for the lock – or miss it

But, mobile online security is a problem. While the green lock icon is there, depending on your browser it also quickly slides out of sight as to not take up precious screen space – which means it is simply easier to skip over.

See the lock icon?
The lock is there … if you look quickly.

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Then there is the access issue. People with mobile phones – or at least my kids – connect anywhere. It does not matter if this is an official connection, a nearby house with an open WiFi connection, or something at the airport. This carelessness of jumping onto any open WiFi connection is a risk as users are vulnerable to Man-in-the-Middle attacks where the entire unencrypted communication can be captured and read.

One seeming alternative is to use a VPN proxy – but it’s not. A proxy VPN lets you look like you’re somewhere else, but it provides no encryption security. Your communication is still open and unencrypted.

So when you want to connect securely, privately, and unlock the geo-restrictions that limit your life — a VPN is needed.

Unencrypted news from the WSJ
Unencrypted news about Turkey. Is this accessible?

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To be conveniently secure, use a full-fledged VPN that provides:

  • Encryption – Your data is fully encrypted.
  • Location – Has the  ‘virtual’ locations you need to unlock geo-restrictions.
  • Credibility – You trust the VPNs handling of your data.

Goldilocks needs a real VPN that gives her “just right” data security for her mobile life.  Something like the Avira Phantom VPN. : )

This post is also available in: GermanFrench

As a PR Consultant and journalist, Frink has covered IT security issues for a number of security software firms, as well as provided reviews and insight on the beer and automotive industries (but usually not at the same time). Otherwise, he’s known for making a great bowl of popcorn and extraordinary messes in a kitchen.