I would like to use the most efficient and safest method of securing my wireless traffic in an "open" setting such as free WiFi in a coffee shop. What's more efficient and more secure: a SOCKS proxy (I currently use, shown below) or a IPSec VPN connection?
I have a Smoothwall Firewall/Router set up at home on cable modem with SSH server running. (Smoothwall also supports a single IPSec VPN instance.) I've been using an SSH connection to the Smoothwall box passing all local Ubuntu Linux traffic through a SOCKS proxy in Firefox to the SSH server at home. Here's the console command I use:
ssh -D 5678 -p 222 non_root_user@_a_DynamicDNS_DNS-name
This takes all local traffic over the 5678 port and sends to the 222 port on the SSH server on Smoothwall. I'm essentially passing all my traffic encrypted through the local open WiFi router, back to my Smoothwall box at home, getting to the Internet sites I want, and then re-encrypted on the return leg to the coffee shop. I've had friends sniff this traffic and it tests as encrypted.
I understand the concept of a VPN but have never set on up. I guess I don't really understand if I would benefit from using a VPN as opposed to the SSH connection I'm using now. Yes, there would be times that it would be nice to access home PCs and printer while remote - I've tried free version of LogMeIn and that's worked for PC access.
Any thoughts or words of wisdom?