Rules To Stay Safe Online When You’re Travelling

We live in a very connected world, but it can easy to forget that not all connections are secure. In an ideal world every wifi network, email attachment and friend request is harmless and well-intended — but that’s far from reality.

As technology advances, so does the arms race to securing our digital ID, privacy and safety online. It’s a war between with software and hardware, spies and criminals, governments — and us, in the middle of it all.

The threat to cyber security becomes even more prevalent when we move around the globe. It’s not just Hotel Wifi networks being hacked, although that is increasingly becoming common. In some nations state sponsored government control is the danger. The threat to your safety and security online is now multiplex.

So as travellers, how can we protect ourselves? Well, here are five rules to help change your thinking and help you make smarter decisions when you’re on the road and in the air…

RULE 1 — Secure Your Connection

When you travel, you’re constantly connecting to new and foreign networks to access the web. This can pose a common threat, from hackers to government spying, you need a layer of protection to browse anonymously.

The first step to a more secure connection is to get a VPN. It’s a service that essentially digs a little tunnel through the internet that’s fully encrypted and only for you. Nord and Express VPN are the best choices.

Takeaways:

  • Use a VPN when overseas or on a network you don’t trust.
  • Download Ghostery — a free tool that blocks trackers and other nasty things found on the web.
  • If you’re not using a VPN, or using another device that is not your own — never login to sensitive websites such as online banking.
  • Download a trusted anti-spyware and virus software.
Working with Express VPN in a hotel (Malaysia) to secure my connection.

RULE 2 — Secure Your Devices

While travelling with electronic devices makes life easier, it carries security risks that should be considered. Your phone carries important information, which in the hands of a hacker or thief — is a weapon used against you.

Takeaways:

  • Disable your iPhone Wifi AutoConnect. This stops your phone passing through wifi channels as it automatically joins open networks.
  • Be cautious to what attachments you download on your devices. 
    .rar / .dmg / .exe files that are not trusted by your operating system should be examined. Identify the point of trust.
  • Have a password on all your devices and encrypt your laptop hard drive. You can easily encrypt your Apple Mac using system settings.

RULE 3 — Secure Your Online Identity

A secure connection and secure identity go hand in hand. It’s important to keep your all your online accounts safe from threats, to secure your personal information. Sadly, most of us fall victim to brute force attacks of breeches because of weak or repeated passwords.

Do you use the same password for your banking, as you did with that random productivity app you signed up for two years ago and forgot? If one gets hacked, the other is vulnerable. If you’re using the same password, or a weak password, you’re creating a link for hackers to continue compromising more of your accounts and revealing more of your identity.

The best solution is to consolidate you passwords in a password manager, and use generated passcodes for each account, with a secure master key that only you remember.

Takeaways:

  • Use Dashlane to keep all your accounts and credentials secure
  • Use caution and discernment on the road and with strangers. If something is suspicious, get away and don’t reveal your identity.
Dashlane is a popular password manager tool that works across any device.

RULE 4 — Secure Your Physical Location

The digital world can allow criminals to pose threat in the physical world. Did you ever hear of the woman who posted about winning the lottery? She got mugged in a shopping centre, after posting photos of her new shopping spree in real time on Instagram.

The rule is, keep your physical location secure when you’re on the road. If someone you don’t know is asking where you are travelling to, don’t tell them! Give fake dates and locations.

Takeaways:

  • Don’t location tag very specific locations, or even your hotel, when sharing to social media.
  • Never tell a stranger where/what hotel you’re staying at.
  • Always use the official cab rank at an airport to avoid scam taxis.

RULE 5 — Always Have A Backup Plan

In summary, always expect that when you travel — the unexpected may happen. That’s why you always need a plan B. It could be as simple as looking at your travel partner and saying “If anything happens during this trip. Come back to this hotel and wait for each other in the lobby.”

Another backup is to keep your physical papers in order. Keep a scanned version of your passport and credentials with a trusted loved on back home. If something goes wrong, they can always email you the PDF. This can be handy if you lose your passport and need to identify yourself for an emergency reprint.

For local navigation, you can download a selected destination on Google Maps to be available offline. This means if you lose your connection, your phone can still help you get back to square one.


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