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I'll be using a computer at a foreign country. Suppose the government is trying to figure out my password, would I be able to protect my password using HTTPS to log into GMail, or my company accounts?

(Given that my surrounding is safe, I'm using my own laptop, except I'll be using the country's gateway to access the internet.)

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  • You may be able to use a VPN (such as OpenVPN) and proxy your HTTP and HTTPS traffic through its encrypted connection back at the server, but if the country you will be visiting determines this to be illegal then the consequences could be serious (e.g., a prison sentence). Aug 22, 2011 at 3:19
  • If your company's infrastructure can support OTP (One-Time Passwords), then this may be a helpful alternative for you to protect your main password. Of course, you could temporarily change your main password to something different for use only during the trip, then change it back again after returning home. Aug 22, 2011 at 3:23
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    Duplicate, also closed as not constructive: superuser.com/questions/225472/how-safe-is-https
    – bwDraco
    Aug 22, 2011 at 3:45

3 Answers 3

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I guess it is just theoretically possible with some huge calculation and sniffer.

# not that practical , nor worth of through.

my advice is be sure to check CAs of website, and relax yourself.

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There is no encryption that is unbreakable; it just takes time. However, the equipment and time it takes to break encryption is a commodity. No government would want to bother wasting its resources cracking your passwords, unless they had a very good reason to. Those resources are usually spent deciphering verifiable targets of interest.

If they really wanted to get your data, it would be more effective to hack your physical PC ... or hack you until you tell them the passwords.

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  • With "hack you until you tell them the passwords" you are referring to what's known as "rubber hose cryptanalysis" which basically means that an adversary is using physical violence (e.g., causing pain with a rubber hose) to coerce a subject into revealing a password, secret key, or other such information needed for decryption. Unfortunately, this type of cryptanalysis fails very badly when the subject really doesn't know the password, secret key, etc. Aug 22, 2011 at 3:13
  • I'll upvote your Answer if you insert the word "Yes" (or "Yes, it's possible.") right at the very beginning. Aug 22, 2011 at 3:25
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    @Randolf - I would suspect he knows his Gmail password.
    – Keltari
    Aug 22, 2011 at 3:32
  • Certainly. Governments also don't need to hack passwords for users of webmail service providers -- they can just issue a court order for copies of all eMails from a particular user's account (or else the webmail service provider could be fined and/or their web site could be blocked by the country's firewalls). Aug 22, 2011 at 3:39
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It could prove easier to 'crack' your password as opposed to HTTPs. Depending on where you are travelling and having myself travelled to what would be considered hostile territory, I would suggest either not checking your emails, etc whilst travelling where possible or at least ensuring your passwords are hard to decipher assuming you are using your own computer that isn't infected or will not be infected. I would defintely avoid Internet cafes.

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  • Are internet cafes particularly more dangerous somehow than other places where one can get connected to the internet? Aug 22, 2011 at 3:21
  • @Randolf Richardson Yes they are. Anything you are running on an unknown computer you have the chance of it using a keylogger. If it's on an open wireless network things are even worse. Aug 22, 2011 at 4:00
  • @Andrew Finnell: Well, for using an unknown computer I definitely agree, although I don't agree that an internet cafe would be any more risky than other unsupervised public access computers (such as those at some public libraries, schools, etc.). For any wireless internet connection (secured or no), I view it as being as risky as the rest of the internet in general -- anything and everything is happening (as far as any kind of hacking is concerned), and assumptions about privacy and security are sort of like invitations for trouble by dark hackers. Aug 22, 2011 at 4:12

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