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I know it's recommended to use a VPN with a hotel WiFi but if I'm in a hurry and don't have time to setup my own VPN server would an SSH tunnel (invoked with ssh -D) work just as well to secure my web traffic?

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Yes, an SSH tunnel will provide the same confidentiality and integrity as an OpenVPN or IPSec VPN tunnel, assuming the configuration is secure. If you expect an active MITM attack, you will need to verify that the SSH fingerprint that you are seeing is correct. If you have set up the server, you should take a note of the fingerprint so you can verify that it is correct when you connect to the server.

Note that SSH uses TCP, and TCP-over-TCP is not recommended due to performance issues. It's fine if you're in a hurry, but UDP is a better protocol to encapsulate TCP than TCP is.

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