Before I show you one way to surf securely when using an open wireless network on a Mac, here are some steps that can help to keep you safe:
- Turn your software firewall on. This goes for Mac or PC.
- If you have access to a VPN (Virtual Private Network), use it when connecting on any open wireless network!
- If you plan on checking your web based email make sure that you are connected over an SSL connection before entering your user credentials.
- Check with the hotspot owner to make sure you know the name of their legitimate SSID.
- Beware of fake SSID names such as "Free Public WiFi".
The method below requires you to have access to a server with SSH installed and a Mac.
Open the Terminal application and type in the following:
ssh -D 8080 -f -C -q -N firstname.lastname@example.org
If your ssh server uses a different port than the default, you can add it like this (-p 7778):
ssh -D 8080 -f -C -q -N -p 7778 email@example.com
If you are prompted for a password enter it. The SSH tunnel should now be working. Next we will setup the SOCKS proxy. Open System Preferences / Network / Advanced / Proxies. Check the box next to "Socks Proxy" and set the "SOCKS Proxy server" text boxes to localhost : 8080. You should now be good to go.
To make sure you are setup correctly, go to a site like What’s My IP and make sure the IP address displayed matches your servers IP address. Happy surfing!