Related to my question about VPNs, is there any way to get my phone to automatically connect to unencrypted access points, but route all my traffic through my home network?

This would be kind of like an intermittent, but free, alternative to a data plan, to just sync my email and such automatically when it sees an open access point, but without the risk of apps transmitting passwords or cookies in the clear over a rogue password-scraping access point.

If I combine something like Wi-Fi Ruler with a VPN would it do this? Are there better alternatives?

Can I have the VPN automatically disabled when I'm connected to a trusted (saved) access point for better speed? (Maybe disabled by a Tasker profile?) If I have the tunnel enabled, and my home network is offline, I'd like the phone to block everything until I explicitly disable the tunnel.

Wi-Fi Ruler can connect to APs automatically, Orbot and DroidVPN can capture all of a rooted phone's traffic and route it through a proxy, and VPNs and SSH tunnels allow for encrypted connections to a home or work network, so it seems possible, but how to put all this together?

  • 3
    It's truly unbelievable that native Android support for OpenVPN hasn't been added. Mobile phones are incredibly personal devices - under no circumstances should data be transmitted in the clear to an open wi-fi. If only there was some way to lean on Google and the manufacturers to mandate such an essential feature into the base OS.
    – PP.
    Nov 19, 2010 at 10:41
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    @PP01 I'm using Cyanogenmod, which has OpenVPN support
    – endolith
    Nov 19, 2010 at 15:31
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    I've never used a VPN on Android so I don't know how well they work or how they operate but if they aren't automatic, you could use Tasker to set a profile so anytime you are using We-Fi or any time you are connected to an unsecured AP it turns on the VPN app. Depending on the VPN app, it may give Tasker more granular control to specific activities that would allow even greater control.
    – Matt
    Mar 6, 2011 at 2:23
  • Wi-Fi Ruler can handle the automatic connection aspect. market.android.com/details?id=com.hogdex.WifiRuler Similar: superuser.com/questions/53974/…
    – endolith
    Sep 26, 2011 at 19:14

4 Answers 4


Lifehacker suggests an app called SSH Tunnel:

SSH Tunnel is an app that allows an Android phone to connect to the internet using an ssh tunnel for a completely secure connection. It's great for those times when you've got no data signal, stuck at work or a coffee shop that only has public Wi-Fi available, and you need to be sure that nobody is snooping your sensitive personal information as you connect to sites.

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    I was thinking a VPN would be better, but I already have an SSH tunnel set up for other computers, so this should be easy enough to set up.
    – endolith
    Jun 4, 2011 at 0:24
  • Confirmed that it works! It seems a little alpha, though, and not sure if it's possible to automate it yet, but it looks promising.
    – endolith
    Jun 4, 2011 at 20:56
  • Actually, this lets data through if the SSH tunnel fails, and the author suggested using a VPN instead.
    – endolith
    Jun 22, 2011 at 18:04

Is Orbot a reasonable option? Doesn't do what you're describing but does protect your content. Guardian has a decent number of encryption apps.

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    It does encryption of everything, which is what I want, but accessing the web through a Tor node is like waving your arms around asking to be hacked. wired.com/threatlevel/2007/11/swedish-researc
    – endolith
    Mar 22, 2011 at 4:08
  • Sure: clear text content is clear text. But sending encrypted content through a Tor node ought to be fine, no?
    – Amanda
    Apr 21, 2011 at 12:29
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    @Amanda: If I could force my phone to only send encrypted content, I wouldn't need to tunnel at all.
    – endolith
    Apr 21, 2011 at 14:53
  • @endolith, not to get all semantic, but you did start your comment with "It does encryption of everything, which is what I want..." Looking at Orbot I'm not sure you're right that it does indeed encrypt everything. I probably should have looked that up instead of relying on your comment, but I don't think I was wildly off base here.
    – Amanda
    Apr 22, 2011 at 13:42
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    @Amanda: If I could force my phone to use end-to-end encryption for everything, I wouldn't need to tunnel at all. Encrypting between me and the Tor exit node is nice for preventing the AP owner (who is physically nearby) from spying on me, but now I have to worry about the Tor exit node owner (who may just be operating it to snag as many unencrypted logins as possible as they pass). If I can encrypt everything to my home IP and then go unencrypted from there, I'm not so worried. Am I wrong?
    – endolith
    Apr 22, 2011 at 19:00

As for the "Automatically connect to Wi-Fi nodes" part, the Wi-Fi Ruler app is very good. It will automatically connect to APs, then it will actually try them to see if they have internet connectivity (and blacklist them and try another one if they don't), automatically approve clickwalls (Panera, Starbucks, ...), save APs under different priority profiles, etc. Combined with something that keeps a persistent tunnel going, this should be a solution.


I am using cyanogen 10 mod and there is an option to set "Always on VPN". I didn't test it but it says "Select a VPN to always stay connected to. Don't allow any network activity unless VPN is connected."

Not sure what version this was added in. I am on 10.1 on Motorola Xoom tablet CDMA.

  • Where is that option?
    – endolith
    Jan 22, 2013 at 13:05
  • I just downgraded to a stable version b/c 3G was brokenand it is gone. I guess it is coming in the next stable release. If you feel experiment-y it was cm nightly build 20130117. Probably the newer ones would have it too but of course YMMV. Jan 23, 2013 at 22:40

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