I'm living with some roomies that I sort of know and occasionally I use their internet. I'm pretty computer savvy but know very little about networks. None of them are too computer savvy and I have reason to believe that at least one of them probably visits malicious or even illegal websites, although I can't prove it.

What can I do to keep my own computer safe and protect my own legal status? I only use the network for looking up programming documentation and downloading linux packages, all of which I can do elsewhere if I have to. Am I at risk from whatever they do? What's the best play here?

  • What anonymisation are you wanting? What do you want us to do? – schroeder Aug 17 '19 at 7:32
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More information would be helpful here. I'm going to assume that the home network is just a wireless router that you all share? If so, there are a couple things you can do. I'm assuming a normal set up and there isn't anything strange like the firewall being disabled or etc.

  1. Make sure your computer is fully updated and backed up. Download one of many free antivirus scans. Your major risk is if their computer gets affected and is then attacking you directly so make sure you are protected.

  2. Check the home router to see if it has a setting called "network isolation". This will be by far the best protection you can enable if you have that option.

  3. Know that the other computers on your network aren't a threat to you unless they get infected, or one of your roommates is being malicious.

  4. Set up multiple networks. Some routers have the ability to set up separated networks. That can be a guest/main, or 2.4 vs 5 G, or just multiple SSIDs. This will help by creating some network segmentation away from your roommates.

  5. Talk to your roomates. If you don't feel good directly confronting the sketchy behavior, you can still ask them what can be done to make sure your network is as secure as possible.

  • I'm using a linux distro and they're on windows. I don't know what their network setup looks like but I'm using ufw on my machine, but that's the extent of my network expertise. Simply using linux with ufw enabled should protect me from the majority of threats right? – anon Jan 26 '19 at 0:51
  • If its just the one device and yoy use Linux, just ensure you run a firewall blocking all connections except outboubd, establishrd and related. If you are running a firewall under Linux this is pretty close to standard. – davidgo Jan 26 '19 at 4:59

First, get your own router between your computer and their network. The NAT function

   *(Yes I know, NAT is not officially a security feature)*

will help isolate you from unsolicited connections.

Second, use a VPN (roughly $40/year) for all your connections. This will prevent them from seeing your activity.

Third, if your roommates attract the notice of law enforcement, LE will respond based upon the IP address. Have an attorney number memorized, because they will take your phone, along with everything else.

  • The reason why NAT is not a security feature is because the immediate upstream can bypass it by just configuring a static route -- and, yes, connect from outside into the NATed network. (You're basically relying on the roommates not being sufficienty network-savvy for that.) Actual isolation comes from the firewall rules / packet filtering, no matter what. – user1686 Jan 25 '19 at 23:54
  • I could care less if they see my activity. I'm plain vanilla and a half. What I'm concerned about is that one of them has a lot of sexual fetishes he keeps trying to bring up in conversation and mentioned once that he was afraid of clicking through on google image searches. Another room mate who uses their computer has mentioned that computer being slow. These things together scream porn viruses to me. I myself use a linux distro with ufw enabled. Am I safe from this? And am I liable for anything illegal this person does on their computer? – anon Jan 26 '19 at 0:54
  • usa.kaspersky.com/blog/porno-danger-fact-or-fiction/15098 Porn site != automatic viruses. Linux is less commonly exploited but not immune. If it were me, I'd just make sure I'm pointed to a DNS server other than the router and that my machine is updated, which is the same precautions I take anywhere... – they Jan 26 '19 at 3:57

I agree with the above answers. In addition to that, I would suggest you to try to enable a static/fixed IP address to your system in your router's DHCP settings. This way if your roommates break the law, the forensics team should be able to identify the system that was used to commit the crime easily from the router's logs.

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