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Jan 05

A Guide To Online Security While Traveling Abroad

Reading Time: 4 mins

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 temporary car insurance if you’re driving.

The point is, nothing makes a trip more enjoyable than knowing that youve packed all the right stuff and got all your arrangements and documents sorted well in advance, so you dont 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 theyre 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 cant afford to ignore.

And thats where this guide comes in.

Below, were 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!


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 cant access the information within – at least, not easily anyway. This should be your first line of defence when keeping your information safe abroad.


Be very careful when using public Wi-Fi

Whether youre 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 youre 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, its 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 youve finished your session.


Use a virtual private network (VPN)

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 youre abroad, its worth getting yourself signed up to a good VPN provider.


Get the right security systems in place

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, its a good idea to get the right security systems installed on your devices to ensure youre protecting your private data.


Make sure your apps are safe

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 mobile app penetration 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.


Don’t use public USB charging points

Believe it or not, public USB charging stations like those you find at airports or on buses can also be a hazard. Of course, its 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, its 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.


Disable your auto-connect features

Finally, a lot of phones try to make your life easier by automatically connecting you to Wi-Fi youve used before, or in some cases, even Wi-Fi connections you havent. 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, its not without its problems. If you are connected to an unsecured network without knowing, your device could become vulnerable.

And this doesnt just apply to Wi-Fi either; auto-connect on Bluetooth can pose similar threats. As such, its advisable that before you go away, especially if you know youll 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.


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