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Old 09-21-2019, 11:44 AM   #1
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secure wi-fi within campgrounds

What router do you use in motor home to make it secure? We have a 2015 27' Sunseeker with 3 slides. I'm looking for a repeater for stronger signal and "our" own secure wi-fi within our motor home. When we sign onto the campground unsecure wireless, we notice a lot of secure Netgear. Asus has been recommended to us. It has also been recommended to get a VPN account, Tunnelbear. Any thoughts/suggestions please. Thanks
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Old 09-21-2019, 12:49 PM   #2
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I've been using NordVPN for a bit over a year now and I'm pretty happy with it. I believe you can use up to 6 devices on one account, and they have apps for smartphones. I assume it can be set up on a smart TV, but I've never tried. It will also work with routers that support OpenVPN.
I love it when the antivirus on my laptop sends out little popups trying sell their VPN by telling me "Your location (Provo, Utah) is unprotected!", when I live in Texas. I guess that means it's working!
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Old 09-21-2019, 01:13 PM   #3
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Pretty much every router out there can be placed in a secure connection mode. An unsecured or open WiFi network is just one that does not need a password to access it (anyone can use it). You often see these at businesses or coffee shops. To secure any router, you just need to change a setting in the setup menu via your computer.

I'm running an ASUS WiFi router. Like DavidBo said, Nord VPN is also an excellent VPN provider, but I have one provided by my office (I just thought I was retired - they still call me for help).

For the speeds you will get when bridged to a campground network or on a cellular connection, there is no need for a expensive router. A basic one for $50 or less will pretty much do everything you need.

Now a range extender or "booster" is also something you want to consider. You want to be able to connect to those weak signals and that is where you want to put your money. The router will either direct connect to the range extender via a cable or be a few feet from it if connected via wireless so a inexpensive router is fine. I don't have one, but the WiFi Ranger is a popular unit for RV's.

Connections are computer/phone to WiFi router to Range Extender to network hub to internet.

If you are just wanting to connect to campground network with weak signals, you may just need to add an external amplified antenna to a router (some have antennas that can be changed out). There are a lot of options from things like the rang extender, directional antennas, cellular hotspots, etc....
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Old 09-21-2019, 02:46 PM   #4
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I bought an extender and if I get a VPN account, I don't think I will need a router. Thanks
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Old 09-21-2019, 02:51 PM   #5
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If I am on any public wifi system, I won't do anything like banking. Personally, if you are going to be on a public wifi, VPN is the most important thing to do. Just because you can secure your router from being logged into means pretty much nothing.
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Old 09-21-2019, 02:56 PM   #6
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Yes I know abut the router because we of course we have one in the house. It is connected to the modem. But the routers I have looked most say have to be connected to modem. Well that isn't going to happen in a campground. I was told the Asus 1900 might work. But now the router in the RV, seems to me, an unnecessary step if you are using the VPN account.
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Old 09-21-2019, 09:29 PM   #7
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A router is only necessary if you have multiple computers.

BTW, a router doesn't have to be connected to a modem. In fact, you can have a router connected to another router as well if you want to or a wireless access point.

BTW
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Yes I know abut the router because we of course we have one in the house. It is connected to the modem. But the routers I have looked most say have to be connected to modem. Well that isn't going to happen in a campground. I was told the Asus 1900 might work. But now the router in the RV, seems to me, an unnecessary step if you are using the VPN account.
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Old 09-21-2019, 10:32 PM   #8
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Since 99% of campgrounds that have wi-fi have a system that is so weak it's a complete waste of time and money to get "repeater" equipment. You would be a lot better off to go with a cellular hotspot like a Netgear Nighthawk or Jetpack MiFi box. A lot more reliable than public Wi-Fi and a lot more secure, especially if you use it via a VPN.

No need for a router since those hotspots can handle up to 15 connections.
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Old 09-22-2019, 08:12 AM   #9
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Since 99% of campgrounds that have wi-fi have a system that is so weak it's a complete waste of time and money to get "repeater" equipment. You would be a lot better off to go with a cellular hotspot like a Netgear Nighthawk or Jetpack MiFi box. A lot more reliable than public Wi-Fi and a lot more secure, especially if you use it via a VPN.

No need for a router since those hotspots can handle up to 15 connections.
Correct.

The infrastructure just isn't there for most campgrounds to provide the same robust wifi to each camper that many have grown accustomed to at home.

Enough bandwidth to provide high speed connections to even 50 campers would be very expensive let alone getting enough for a couple hundred.

I believe 'someday' campgrounds will provide better wifi and charge extra for it just as many now do for 50a service (a very few already do offer better wifi for a fee) but until then do everyone a favor... if you want to stream movies, do banking and be connected to the internet 100% of your camping stay, get your own personal hotspot with a carrier of your choice.
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Old 09-22-2019, 08:45 AM   #10
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The recent PeachFrog rally was held at Yonah Campground. The WiFi there was the best I’ve ever encountered in a campground. Seven repeaters throughout the campground and consistent speeds from 12-35 MBPS.

Each campsite had an assigned password. Smart TVs, AppleTV, Amazon Fire, Roku, etc etc etc devices were blocked. I heard there were possible methods to get around the blocks but I don’t know for sure. The CG did not charge extra for the service but looking at the individual site password system they could easily do that.

Since I have dual AppleTV setups I didn’t use the CG WiFi. And, the AT&T hotspot delivered over 40 Mbps speeds. Verizon hotspot could only show 12-15 Mbps numbers.
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Old 09-22-2019, 09:24 AM   #11
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I didn't think all routers needed to be connected to modem. I have been given conflicting information. I actually did chat with Asus and they recommended the 1900. I will GO BACK to the computer store and make sure I get someone who knows what they are talking about. It seems to me, a router can pick up a wireless signal within RV! This has been my thought all along, it's just getting the right product. Depending on how secure I can make the router, with an outlandish password, I'm not sure I need a VPN account. Thanks for the help!
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Old 09-22-2019, 09:31 AM   #12
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Wow, so much great information! We have AT&T so a hotspot would be easy enough. And we have unlimited data. I'm going to print this conversation analyze all this and see what is the best choice for the 2 of us. We have 2 computers, 1 IPad and 2 IPhones, of course all would not be in use at once and in CGs there are better things to do than stare at a screen! Like read and drink, not necessarily in that order! Thanks again.
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Old 09-22-2019, 01:46 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emm-dee View Post
Since 99% of campgrounds that have wi-fi have a system that is so weak it's a complete waste of time and money to get "repeater" equipment. You would be a lot better off to go with a cellular hotspot like a Netgear Nighthawk or Jetpack MiFi box. A lot more reliable than public Wi-Fi and a lot more secure, especially if you use it via a VPN.
Ditto. Most campground wifi's are a total waste of time. It is similar to trying to water several acres with a hundred sprinkler heads and one garden hose. It ain't happening. Occasionally you may find a campground that has a good wifi setup, but they are one in a hundred. As emm-dee says, the best bet is a wifi hotspot of your own... we have been using a jetpack for ten years. IT's the best thing out there
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Old 09-22-2019, 03:10 PM   #14
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We're very happy using a Jetpack MiFi from Verizon. It picks up the local Verizon cell signal and allows up to 6-8 devices to connect to its secure wifi network. Of course, it uses my Verizon account's data plan.
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Old 09-22-2019, 03:19 PM   #15
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Ditto. Most campground wifi's are a total waste of time. It is similar to trying to water several acres with a hundred sprinkler heads and one garden hose. It ain't happening. Occasionally you may find a campground that has a good wifi setup, but they are one in a hundred. As emm-dee says, the best bet is a wifi hotspot of your own... we have been using a jetpack for ten years. IT's the best thing out there
Yep, also agree. I would never waste money on any RV WiFi enhancement products. No WiFi in any state or national park campground I've ever been in and the vast majority of RV parks had weak and slow WiFi.
We just use one our cellphones as a hotspot.
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Old 09-22-2019, 03:49 PM   #16
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secure wi-fi within campgrounds

Good conversation. I use my mobile hotspot on an unlimited plan. Most CG's have very poor WIFI. I would like suggestions on cellular boosters. What do you guys use?
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Old 09-22-2019, 06:33 PM   #17
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WARNING: long dissertation follows.

As a previous person noted, when a Wi-Fi point shows as "unsecure" it simply means the access point does not require a password. It may require a login through a "portal page" but your device usually cannot detect those.

"Unsecure" or "Insecure" with respect to a Wi-Fi access system does not mean it is inherently insecure from an information protection perspective.

A Wi-Fi or cellular system simply provides the mechanism for "data in motion" to occur but the vast majority of data breaches occur from "data at rest". By far the most common method is to somehow get malicious software installed onto your device, steal your credentials or to hack the company you're connecting to and steal the "data at rest" directly from them.

If you decide to use a free VPN service, remember that someone has to pay for it. It's usually the company selling your metadata. The term TANSTAAFL has been around since at least the 1930's and is still 100% true today. "If you're not paying for the product, you are the product that company is really selling."
  • Critical point: The company running the equipment where your VPN connects can, if they want, see any of your unencrypted "data in motion". No matter how much they say they won't do it.
There are technical tricks that the company providing the site can do to help lock everything down and protect you, such as "certificate pinning". Some companies, particularly financials like the larger banks, do that but most do not because it's a cost-complexity-benefit issue. (I used to lead the operational IT security team for a large bank before I retired.)

There are a few things you can do to easily protect yourself no matter what type of Internet access system you use:
  • If your browser gives you a warning about a certificate problem, STOP! "Data in motion" thefts commonly occur through the use of fraudulent security certificates. People who routinely click through those warnings are setting themselves up for a problem through their bad habit. Thankfully legitimate certificate warnings are far fewer than they used to be.

  • On ALL accounts (bank, credit card, loans, everything) set up alerts for all transactions. For withdrawals or card usage, set the transaction limit to zero so you get an email and/or text 100% of the time your card or account is used. Think about it; it's your card. You should know every time it gets used, right?

  • If you do not have online access set up for an account, either do it or call the company and have them disable the access. The former is preferable. Why? It's not too difficult for a fraudster to figure out the information needed to register your online account for you. They then become you as far as that company is concerned.

  • If you absolutely must have a debit card (I do not), set up two bank accounts at your bank. One is your primary account that accepts payroll and other direct deposits. Call the bank and tell them to deactivate the debit card on that account (they are ALWAYS enabled by default at account creation).

    Open a second account with a debit card. Use the bank's online banking to move some money from the primary deposit account into the debit card account as needed.

    Why do this? Debit cards can be used to completely clean out your account. Most banks will take up to ten business days to investigate and return your money, which they usually do. If you have no deposits coming in, you have zero cash for up to ten days. If the fraudsters clean out the debit card account you still have money in your deposit account.

  • On a semi-related matter, if you have a LinkedIn account, do not accept requests to link unless you know the person. This is a common tactic to gain access to a third person, one that you know. The miscreant uses you to establish credibility that they are who they say they are. Their real target knows you and since you know the miscreant, the real target may let their guard down a bit. This is a fairly common espionage tactic. Even though you may no longer be working it's likely you still have LinkedIn contacts that would be valuable to someone else.

HTH,

Ray
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Old 09-22-2019, 07:44 PM   #18
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Unnecessary precaution

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If I am on any public wifi system, I won't do anything like banking. Personally, if you are going to be on a public wifi, VPN is the most important thing to do. Just because you can secure your router from being logged into means pretty much nothing.
That's an unnecessary precaution.

Your connection is https, not http. That means that your computer is encrypting the data with a key known only by the bank's server (and vice-versa). Other people can see that a packet is flowing from your IP address to the bank's IP address because they can read the address headers which have to be clear (unencrypted) to deliver the packet. But they cannot read the data following the headers since that is encrypted.

A VPN prohibits people from even seeing that the packet is flowing from your computer to the bank but most of us don't worry about that.
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Old 09-22-2019, 08:12 PM   #19
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A VPN prohibits people from even seeing that the packet is flowing from your computer to the bank but most of us don't worry about that.

And let's not forget that a VPN tunnel has to be terminated. Services like NordVPN just provide a tunnel from your computer to their VPN termination point then forward your data traffic to it's intended destination. If you make sure your connection to a financial institution or any business is an HTTPS connection you'll be fine. If you are concerned about the WIFI network you're on for all of your data traffic then VPN is a reasonable solution.
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Old 09-22-2019, 08:23 PM   #20
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Other people can see that a packet is flowing from your IP address to the bank's IP address because they can read the address headers which have to be clear (unencrypted) to deliver the packet. But they cannot read the data following the headers since that is encrypted.

A VPN prohibits people from even seeing that the packet is flowing from your computer to the bank but most of us don't worry about that.
Yes and no. Yes, a VPN prevents people using the same Wi-Fi or cellular network from even seeing that the packet is flowing from your computer to the bank.

The point that everyone seems to miss is that you are not establishing a VPN connection directly to the bank unless the bank provides that as a service. That capability would usually be reserved for very large commercial customers.

You are establishing a VPN (virtual private network) connection to the computers of the VPN service. They in turn then send your communication to the bank using HTTPS. The bank uses HTTPS back to the VPN service, which then routes it to you using their VPN back to you. So the VPN service is an authorized "man-in-the-middle".

Despite all of the hype about using a VPN for privacy, all you've really done is shift all of your Internet usage every time you use the VPN service to the VPN service so they become the privacy weak point.

If the VPN software you installed also installed a "root certificate" belonging to the VPN service company, which certainly is not unheard of, then the VPN service company now has the ability to not only see all of your unencrypted data, they also can now decrypt all of your HTTPS data and you have no idea it is even happening. You can figure it out if you examine the HTTPS certificate properties every single time you access that site and no one does that manually.

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