This is a Guest Post by Cassie Phillips who is an online security expert and writer for securethoughts.com.Topic of the use of VPN and cybersecurity while traveling is very important especially with amount of Internet accessible gadgets that we bring along with us.
How to Stay Safe Online While Traveling
I would like to thank Travel Tech Gadgets for publishing this article. There site is a great place to learn how to optimize your traveling experiences with the latest technologies and electronics. After reading this, be sure to check out their post on the best travel apps on the market!
Internet access is becoming universal as increasingly more connection points pop up all over the world. While 50 years ago, travelers would have had little to no contact with the world outside the places they were traveling, now it’s commonplace to be able to log-on wherever you are.
There are numerous benefits to this surge in public WiFi: you can book tickets while on the go, keep in contact with loved ones back home or document your adventures on a blog, to name a few. However, there is also a risk factor that many fail to consider.
Dangers of Public WiFi
Public WiFi are usually open networks. This means that data is left to fly around unencrypted and accessible to any malicious prying eyes who might also be connected. Whenever a traveler finds a coffee shop or train station signal and connects, all their online activity can be viewed and intercepted. This includes every time you enter your payment details to make a purchase or every time you enter a password to use a sensitive account, such as email or online banking.
With this data, malicious hackers can easily access your bank account or commit monetary fraud using your identity and leave you to pick up the pieces. A cyberattack while on the road can be disastrous to any trip, so being aware of the risks and taking the necessary precautions is essential.
The rise in cybercrime has been constant and unrelenting over the past few years as many criminals turn to these insecure networks to make a quick buck. The practice has become so embedded that in many places, rogue hotspots have been set up with the primary intention of stealing your information.
Criminals will set up free, open WiFi points—occasionally mimicking the name of a local and well-known brand to fool users into trusting it—and as soon as you connect, they will start cyphering off your data. To avoid this, stick to trusted networks, such as your hostel or the local Starbucks, and confirm the name of the WiFi with a staff member before connecting to be sure to avoid trouble.
One of the most important thing about the cyberlandscape is that it’s ever-changing. Just as quickly as companies are providing patches for insecurities, hackers are finding new security holes to exploit. Sometimes your best line of defense can be to stay ahead of the game.
There are always prolific threats that are detailed and reviewed online, alongside remedies to resolve them, so keeping your eyes to the blogs and forums could be essential in protecting yourself. This was evident recently as a new strain of ransomware, named Locky, took the traveling community by storm. Fortunately, online sources were quick to warn others, and the crisis was averted for many.
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Everyone knows that passwords are an important part of online security. Just as you would lock the door to your house with a key, passwords act as the first line of defense for any malicious criminal trying to access your data. However, so many of us are guilty of recycling and re-using old password combinations. By doing this, you significantly increase the damage a malicious hacker can cause if your details are intercepted.
If you’re passwords are similar over many accounts, then they can easily gain access to them all; however, if the combinations are complex and varied, then if they manage to intercept one, they can’t infiltrate anything other than that single domain. To create strong passwords be sure to use a mixture of characters—including numbers, capital letters and punctuation—and avoid obvious phrases such as dates of birth or common words such as “password.”
Virtual Private Networks
Although all of these steps increase your online security, by far the best way to protect yourself on public WiFi while traveling is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Already favored by many to access geo-restricted sites such as Netflix and Hulu when on the road, this handy software package is also a leader in internet security.
Once installed, an initial connection is created between your device and the VPN server that mimics a private connection. The tunnel this creates allows your data to be encrypted and your location to be hidden. This means you can subsequently connect to any WiFi hotspot, anywhere in the world, and you will be protected and anonymous. It’s a great tool to keep yourself safe online while traveling.
Do you have any more tips for travelers to help them stay safe when connecting on-to-go? Or have you had any experiences with public WiFi abroad? Be sure to leave a comment below and help make the internet a safer place overall!
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Sound-off: What do you do to keep your gadgets safe while traveling? Do you use VPN? Let us know below
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