Kent's Radio Show interview at Into Tomorrow
July 11, 2012
Announcer: Want to become invisible to hackers? Well, our next guest can help you with your own virtual private network. He is the CEO of Private WiFi. Kent Lawson, welcome into tomorrow. How are you?
Kent: Thank you, it’s nice to be here.
A: It’s a pleasure to have you with us. I like how it says right away at your website, “Hackers can’t steal what hackers can’t see.”
K: That’s the point. We have to make people aware that there are a lot of hackers out there in wifi hotspots and I think people need protection.
A: Well, that brings up a great point, because a whole lot of folks are offering free wifi these days and oh great, we’re online, wonderful, and now I can do my banking, and I can do my bill paying, whatever else you want to do, may or may not cause some issue for you.
K: You need to be very careful about that sort of thing and what you typically hear from the press is, oh, watch for the little HTTPS sign and that sort of thing, well, I’m sorry to break it to your listeners but HTTPS has been cracked and there are a variety of ways to get around it and the most recent way around it a piece of software called BEAST. HTTPS is no longer secure so if you are going to be doing anything significant in a wifi hotspot, you need to have a personal VPN.
A: So if we’re sitting at a Starbucks or a McDonalds, or somewhere that we would assume is fine because we know the store or the restaurant or whatever, and we’re online, it doesn’t mean that somebody nearby isn’t in the same network looking at what we’re doing.
K: There can be just one person in that same hotspot who may have downloaded a piece of software onto an ordinary laptop, and I emphasize an ordinary laptop, and there’s plenty of software that can be downloaded for free on the web, and it’s been downloaded hundreds of thousands of time.
A: So they’re being used somewhere by someone?
K: They certainly are. And that person can see everything that is being transmitted back and forth for all users in that hotspot.
A: So it is amazingly easy, then, for an identity thief to gain access to my info if I’m using that public wifi?
K: That’s correct. And for example, it used to be for identity theft that people would do things like go dumpster diving, you know, look for a piece of paper that someone might have thrown away that had their Social Security number on it or something. Well, how much better would it be if they’re sitting in a Starbucks sipping a latte and they can store all the information on their laptop and then go home and have a little program that looks for something that looks like a Social Security number?
A: Well, then I guess that’s where Private WiFi comes in because one would think, first of all, that hotspots providers provide some level of protection, but even if they’re doing something within their own hotspot, as you mentioned earlier, Kent, if someone’s in that same wifi hotspot as I am, then there’s no real protection, even if they’re doing something.
K: Let me blast a few of the misconceptions away. First of all, nearly all wifi hotspots are completely unencrypted. Even if they have a password, they’re probably still unencrypted, or some of them, if they have a password, some of them are encrypted with WEP, which you may know from your home router, is completely insecure. WEP can be cracked in six seconds. In fact, some of the software that’s around can crack even WPA. Let me go one step further: even if you are in a paid wifi hotspot, like in a hotel, that sort of thing, it’s still almost invariably completely open and unencrypted.
A: Wow. It seems like the only way to protect yourself there is just to never go online period.
K: No, no , no. We wouldn’t be talking about this if I didn’t have a solution. Look, people need VPNs, virtual private networks. Now, large corporations have had VPNs for years for their employees to travel, and the geeks have had them for years as well. But they have not been VPNs available for ordinary folks who just realized they need it. Private WiFi is one of those, we think it’s the best of them. It’s very easy to use, easy to install, inexpensive, and it provides complete, absolute protection, the same kind of protection that corporations use, and even businesses and banks use for their employees.
A: So then what is your Private WiFi doing? Encrypting everything we send and receive?
K: That’s exactly right. It’s a little piece of software that downloads onto the laptop. It encrypts everything that goes over the wifi network. That includes your emails, your browsing, your passwords, and so on, are all encrypted, or in some cases, doubly encrypted. And it provides complete protection. We have you connect to one of our remote servers, and we have about twelve or fourteen remote servers around the country that parallel decryption and encryption, so that things are encrypted in both directions. It gives one more level of privacy, by the way, because the rest of the world sees your location as your IP address, most people know what it is, it’s your identity on the web, and it changes your IP address from your actual location to one of our servers and so it gives you some anonymity and it also disguises your location. So some people have a bit of comfort in that as well.
A: So then are you decrypting everything at your server so that whoever I’m sending an email to will actually get it and not gobblygook for example.
K: Oh, you don’t think we should just send gobblygook?
A: Perhaps it’s not as convenient.
K: We decrypt it and the rest of the world sees you in a different place and with a different identity, IP addresses are a sort of identity after all, but all the rest of your surfing and so on is done quite normally.
A: So the same thing in visiting websites, or whatever I’m doing, if I’m inputting information or collecting information, it’s all encrypted at your servers?
K: It’s all encrypted and it protects you from all sorts of different kinds of threats. The ones we’ve been talking about is something called sniffing, where someone’s sniffing your communications out of the air. Let me back up a minute, wifi after all is just radio waves, that’s all it is. So all you need is a receiver tuned to the right frequency and you can like anything else just receive it and store it. But there are also more sophisticated types of attacks called man-in-the-middle, that are even more nefarious, really, but a good VPN will protect you against that as well.
A: So Private WiFi protects against all of those, is what you’re saying?
K: It does, yes.
A: And what are we talking about cost wise for this protection?
K: It’s $9.95 a month, or $84.95 a year. If your users are members of AOL, they can get it as part of their AOL package.
A: Are they still around, AOL?
K: Oh yeah, they are. In fact, it’s the seventh largest website in the country, actually.
A: I was trying to be funny, but you hardly ever hear of anybody doing any AOL stuff lately. But I guess that’s good, if they’re still the seventh largest then you can align yourself with a rather large group of users.
K: And they selected our product as being the best VPN available for their users, and of course their users are sort of classic, middle America users, so that’s a good endorsement I think. The point that I’d make to your listeners, David, is that everyone knows that you need a firewall and antivirus, but in my opinion there’s a third leg of protection that people need and that’s a personal VPN.
A: Gotcha. Well, do check out privatewifi.com, where hackers can’t steal what hackers can’t see and you’ll see what Kent and his team are up to and we’ll link you there too when you hit us up at intotomorrow.com. But privatewiifi.com for me. Kent, thanks for being with us and continued good luck. Sounds like you are onto something there and hopefully protecting a whole lot of folks.
K: Thank you Dave.