Whether you regularly travel for work or just once a year for that much needed holiday, there are certain pre-travel routines and rituals that we all have to ensure our trip goes as smoothly as possible. For example, this might be booking flights, finding accommodation, organising excursions, buying suncream or sorting out if you’re driving.
The point is, nothing makes a trip more enjoyable than knowing that you’ve packed all the right stuff and got all your arrangements and documents sorted well in advance, so you don’t have to feel stressed the week leading up to your trip.
Yet, one of the things that travellers often neglect is protecting themselves online when they’re abroad. And in the era of the smartphone, when everyone takes at least one smart device away with them and uses this for things like checking-in transferring money, booking trips, etc., this is something you can’t afford to ignore.
And that’s where this guide comes in.
Below, we’re going to take a look at everything you need to know about online security whilst abroad, sharing our top tips for keeping your personal data safe!
- Be careful using public wi-fi
- Use a VPN
- Get security systems
- Check apps
- Don’t use public USB charging
- Disable auto-connect
Make sure you have security settings on your devices
One of the simplest but most important things you can do to keep your data safe when abroad is to make sure that you lock down all your devices. What we mean by this is ensuring that all phones, laptops, tablets, etc., have security settings switched on and require a passcode or fingerprint ID to gain access.
This way, should your device get lost or stolen, you can rest assured that strangers can’t access the information within – at least, not easily anyway. This should be your first line of defence when keeping your information safe abroad.
Whether you’re in a hotel, restaurant, bar or airport, lots of businesses now try to accommodate for the always-on world we live in by providing free public Wi-Fi connections. While this can be very handy if you’re running low on data or trying to catch up on some work, it does have its problems.
Public Wi-Fi is often targeted by hackers as unsecured networks make it much easier for them to hack into peoples devices and steal their information.
To avoid this happening, make sure to use only secure networks. You can find out if these are safe by asking hotel/restaurant staff or by looking for the HTTPS at the beginning of a web address. This means the network is secure.
If possible, it’s also best to avoid logging into accounts whilst on public Wi-Fi, as well as avoiding making payments or transfers. But if you absolutely have to, always log out as soon as you’ve finished your session.
A virtual private network (VPN) is an online security tool that extends across public networks, creating its own private one. This enables the user to send and receive data privately as if they were connected to their own private network at home.
There are lots of VPN providers out there and even some free tools you could use if you look in the right places. Either way, if you plan to use your device to browse the internet a lot while you’re abroad, it’s worth getting yourself signed up to a good VPN provider.
There are lots of security systems out there that can help to protect your devices, for example, firewall and anti-virus protection. And the best news is, you can get comprehensive security packages that offer multiple security systems in one place to help keep your devices safe.
So, before your trip, it’s a good idea to get the right security systems installed on your devices to ensure you’re protecting your private data.
Following on from the point above, if you’ve done everything else right, you need to make sure that your applications aren’t the ones letting you down. There are several things you can do to make sure these normally helpful apps aren’t offering cybercriminals a back door into your information while you’re away.
So again, before you go, you should make sure that all your applications, and your security systems for that matter, are up to date. You could also take it one step further and run some tests (such as tests) to make sure your devices don’t have any existing vulnerabilities that cunning hackers could exploit.
Because unfortunately, those of us that are happily enjoying our holiday or quickly logging on to the hotel Wi-Fi to check our emails are often an easy target for these groups of cybercriminals.
Believe it or not, public USB charging stations like those you find at airports or on buses can also be a hazard. Of course, it’s never convenient when your phone is running low on battery, but these ports can act as a data transfer medium as well as a charging point – which is something that not many people are aware of.
So instead, before you go on your trip, it’s a good idea to invest in your own portable charging bank that you can use when your battery is running low. This reduces the risk of someone being able to access and transfer your information via a public point.
Finally, a lot of phones try to make your life easier by automatically connecting you to Wi-Fi you’ve used before, or in some cases, even Wi-Fi connections you haven’t. So, for example, as you pass through the hotel lobby or go back to that local restaurant you really loved, your phone could be automatically connecting your devices.
While this might be a handy little time saver, it’s not without its problems. If you are connected to an unsecured network without knowing, your device could become vulnerable.
And this doesn’t just apply to Wi-Fi either; auto-connect on Bluetooth can pose similar threats. As such, it’s advisable that before you go away, especially if you know you’ll be relying more on public Wi-Fi spots, that you turn off auto-connect. This can stop any nasty surprises or sneaky hackers from gaining access to your information.
Disclaimer: MoneyMagpie is not a licensed financial advisor and therefore information found here including opinions, commentary, suggestions or strategies are for informational, entertainment or educational purposes only. This should not be considered as financial advice. Anyone thinking of investing should conduct their own due diligence.