How To Stay Safe Online When You’re Traveling

AXEL
AXEL
Apr 10 · 5 min read

Travel can be a mind-opening and life-altering experience. Whether you’re traveling for business, for pleasure, or to visit your family in your hometown, it’s always great to get away from the drudgery of your daily routine to see new things and meet new people.

However, unfamiliar places can bring unfamiliar dangers. And while you’ve likely been told to not keep your valuables on your person in case you get mugged or to lock yourself in a small cabinet when visiting family so they can never find you again, the rules for safely using technology while you travel are a bit nebulous at times.

Never fear: we’ve got you covered. Here’s how to keep your personal information safe when visiting an unfamiliar — or all too familiar — locale.

Business travel

Wow — you’re important enough that it’s actually necessary for you go to a whole different city or country for work. Because you’re needed there. Ok. Are you Beyonce or something?!

Anyway business travel has its own set of risks and challenges, so here are some things to keep in mind.

  • Bring only what you need. Increasingly, security personnel at airports will look through devices to determine if their owner poses a security threat. And the risk of having something stolen is greater in unfamiliar environments. Bring the tools you need to safely work, but don’t bring anything you don’t absolutely need.
  • Keep your devices on you at all times. Yes, the danger of security going through your phone is real, but don’t check your work laptop that has all your company’s trade secrets. If one of your devices gets lost, then anyone who finds it will be able to hack into it and figure out when your next secret album is dropping. (You are Beyonce, aren’t you?!)
  • Don’t trust the Wi-Fi. This is always a solid tip, but especially important when you’re traveling for business. Never use unfamiliar public Wi-Fi to do official company business or any sensitive personal browsing. Doing so leaves you open to hacking, government surveillance, and increased risk of malware being installed on your device.
  • Use a VPN. If you’re traveling for business, all of your internet browsing should happen while connected to a VPN. Many companies require you to use a VPN to log into their networks while working, but if your company doesn’t, invest in one.
  • Consult your company’s IT department before you leave. Ask your IT department if there are any special considerations for working remotely in the country you’re visiting, unless your IT department is just three people sitting in a basement. Then just follow the tips above and also begin looking for a new job.

Personal travel

Wow — you’d rather explore the world than sit at home in your sad studio apartment with your cat. Because you want to. Ok.

When traveling for pleasure, you should bring only what you need, be wary of Wi-Fi, and keep all devices on your at all times, as mentioned above. Here are some additional tips for world explorers.

  • Wait until you get home to post pictures. It’s tempting to post all your sexy beach pics immediately to make others jealous, but it’s best to wait so you’re not advertising that your home is empty or giving away your location.
  • Don’t do any crimes online. If you do venture on the Wi-Fi, make sure you know that laws in the country you’re in. For instance, don’t go on adult sites in Cuba and don’t trash the government on social media in China — it won’t turn out well for you!
  • Password protect all your mobile devices. You should always have strong passwords in place for all your hardware and online accounts, but it’s particularly important when you’re traveling. Have strong passwords for hardware and two-factor authentication for all accounts.
  • Don’t swim with your phone in your pocket. This has nothing to do with online safety, it’s just better if you don’t.

Visiting your family in your hometown

Oh man — how’d you get tricked into visiting your hometown? Whether you’re home for the holidays or visiting your beloved family dog Sparky, your hometown is full of dangers

  • Stay in a hotel on the dark side of town. Do not reveal the location of this hotel to anyone. Pay in cash and use “Jon Bon Jovi” as a pseudonym.
  • Do not complain about your mom’s meatloaf on social media. Similar to complaining about the government in China, this will get you into big trouble.
  • Turn off all location-sharing capabilities on your phone, and make sure your phone isn’t set to automatically connect to Wi-Fi. Government agencies and your mom can use this information to track your location.
  • Whoops — your mom found you at your sketchy hotel because Jon Bon Jovi is a pretty obvious pseudonym. Grab Sparky and leave in the night.

Traveling can be a minefield of digital dangers, but as long as you exercise reasonable caution and refrain from using the pseudonym “Jon Bon Jovi,” you should have a safe trip. Bon Voyage, Beyonce!

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Written by: Kristen Pyszczyk

AXEL

Written by

AXEL

We're AXEL, asking the hard questions on who's doing what with YOUR data. www.axel.org

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