OT - Seeking advice on wifi security

I’m seeking advice from anyone who knows about personal security or Norton? I’ve used LifeLock for some time, mostly because I never got around to cancelling them. They’ve been acquired since by Symantec, and now seem to be partnering with Norton, who I know nothing about. I’ve received these ads from them:

You already trust LifeLock to help protect your identity. Now help protect your online connections with Norton WiFi Privacy. While on non-secure public Wi-Fi, criminals could hack into your connection and try to access your personal info. Using a Virtual private network (VPN) by Norton means you can feel confident going online to check bank accounts or shop while on-the-go.

That sounds attractive to me as I am very reluctant to use public wifi.

I also received this ad:

Introducing the Norton Core Secure wifi router.
You have protection against identity thieves, but what about cybercriminals, malware and viruses? Now you can help safeguard your home network, plus all of your personal smart devices connected to it -while getting incredibly fast Wi-Fi performance.

Thanks for any expert (or even semi-expert) advice.


Use of a VPN is a tradeoff between security and speed. You get an additional layer of security for your internet connection but your internet speed will typically be a bit lower. (In some rare cases it can be faster, but don’t count on it). If you deal with sensitive data on lots of public wifi connections, a VPN may be worthwhile for your peace of mind. Though keep in mind your actual chance of having someone hack your data without a VPN is very small, even on public wifi.

For travel, a VPN can be advantageous as it can put your IP address in a different country. When I was in Ukraine last year I could not log into one of my investment accounts because of country restrictions. A VPN provided a way around this problem.

A good VPN which does not log your internet traffic also gives you anonymity as there is no longer a method of tracking internet traffic to your computer.

It is also worth noting that some public wifi connections will block a VPN connection.

I have been looking into VPN options lately. So far, the three I like best are NordVPN, “KeepSolid VPN Unlimited” and PureVPN.

1 Like

Hi Saul,

The following is my understanding.

Online banking - indeed, anything financial of a private nature - is essentially perfectly safe over public Wi-Fi, because those transactions are already encrypted by public-key cryptography (that’s what the padlock symbol tells you when using these sites).

Sure, VPNs encrypt all internet traffic, and add an extra layer of encryption onto already encrypted traffic. But, is one just being paranoid in insisting that all internet traffic be encrypted? And, given that the banks’ encryption is essentially unbreakable, what’s the point of adding another layer of encryption onto it?

The real value of VPNs to individuals, I think, is that the VPNs let someone seem as though they are based in a different country, as thereby get around geoblocks - as othalan has already mentioned.

There’s no right or wrong answer, here. Whatever an individual decides based on a correct understanding of VPNs is the right answer for that individual.

Kind regards,


It would be wise to trial a VPN before committing.

Because your VPN exit node is from a different locale from where you reside, you may find yourself unable to connect to financial institutions (or even locked out should you have closely made connections coming from different locales). I ran across this multiple times. Once my local bank locked out my account for fear it had been compromised. It took extended phone calls to regain online access.

I do not use VPN to connect to financial institutions unless I am out of country, or I have my account set up with 2-factor authentication. For in country connections, secure https connections along with 2-factor access should be fine. Norton is overselling VPN (as are many other big name AV services).

Also… keep in mind that whenever your VPN is active ALL connections from your machine pass through the VPN (if they don’t your VPN only offers partial security). If your VPN is of a fixed monthly data limit (I would assume that of Norton), you will need to manage your connections. Also… VPN connection can break unknowingly. When that happens your machine reverts to its “normal” non-VPN connection without warning. Some VPN providers provide network auto-locking tools to prevent non-VPN connections. If security is a concern, then such a feature is a must.

1 Like

You may want to post on the HWTSC board. There are some smart IT guys there.

Link: http://discussion.fool.com/help-with-this-stupid-computer-112909…



Hi Saul - this has been something of interest to me as well. I have included two links to resources that I’ve used. I follow a few crypto experts and other security experts and try to find the common ground they agree upon. I can’t validate too much but this is a little of what I’ve learned.

As for VPN, the way I understand it, it’s a trade off. Your connect will be slower but you trade off who sees your info. Right now your ISP gets your traffic but when you use a VPN, the VPN provider gets to see your traffic. Even when you’re routing through another country, the VPN provider sees all of that. So it depends on who you trust more. Free VPNs are a nightmare because you are more of a product than customer. Just some thoughts as I’ve been reading up on it more.





Sorry, I can’t help you but I hope you don’t mind my sharing a story about Norton.

Last century (last millennium), when I was selling Venezuelan software in Silicon Valley, I met Peter Norton in his high-rise office in Santa Monica overlooking the Pacific Ocean where you can see as far as Japan. Since then he sold out to Symantec:

Peter Norton (born November 14, 1943) is an American programmer, software publisher, author, and philanthropist. He is best known for the computer programs and books that bear his name and portrait. Norton sold his PC software business to Symantec Corporation in 1990.


The story is that his help desk people had the best view the offices provided, a better view than even Peter Norton had. He explained that helping people on the telephone was so stressful that they required the most relaxing setting he could provide. It was a gorgeous view!

No, I didn’t make the sale. :frowning:

Denny Schlesinger


I use a VPN whenever I’m in China as it’s the only way to access Google servers. I don’t use it in the US as I don’t see a need for it and there is a monthly fee. All financial sites are https secure. I don’t know that a VPN provides anything additional in terms of security benefits, but I tend to think not.

Not all VPNs are the same. I use Astrill in China. Would it be the best within the US or Europe. Can’t answer, don’t know.

1 Like

Another reason for VPN is to prevent your ISP from getting your Internet browsing history. And then making money off (selling) that info?


A VPN like “privateinternetaccess” for $20/year is one option.

Thanks to everyone for your advice. That was far more and far more helpful than I ever expected. I get the feeling that an ordinary person like me probably doesn’t need one of these things in the ordinary course of life. Thanks for your help.

In my opinion the use of VPNs brings so many different advantages that most people can benefit in one way or another.

My favorite use is streaming foreign live TV that otherwise is geoblocked when accessed through US IPs. People used to even be able to set their VPNs to, say, France and get the French Netflix offering but Netflix has been cracking down on that lately. I still enjoy the occasional German soccer game.

I use a VOIP as my phone service which only allows me to log in and check voicemails but only when logging in from a US IP. Abroad I can only check when using the vpn.

Then, there are the privacy and security advantages that go along with using a VPN.

Instead of using Lifelock you’d be better off setting a credit freeze with the bureaus. I think my car insurance covers ID theft, too, so Lifelock is superfluous.

If anyone is interested in VPNs, you can get a lifetime subscription to Purevpn for $90: https://stacksocial.com/sales/lifetime-of-purevpn
Or a 2yr subscription for PIA for $60 https://stacksocial.com/sales/private-internet-access-vpn-2-…

If interested in a VPN router please check out Flashrouters who set up your vpn before shipping the router https://www.flashrouters.com/


Thanks to everyone for your advice. That was far more and far more helpful than I ever expected. I get the feeling that an ordinary person like me probably doesn’t need one of these things in the ordinary course of life. Thanks for your help.

One threat area that the VPN can not address is the ability of somebody or a camera being able to watch you enter passwords. I would suggest having all accounts require 2-step authentication that support it. I am still surprised that the weakest security requirements of all my accounts seem to by my US broker and bank accounts.

Saul… I ran across this today…

Maybe you’ll find it helpful.

FWIW, I’m not an Emisoft fan, but a good article is a good article.


Thanks RoyGeeBiv, Looks like a very helpful article.