Authored by Thomas Ujj
To help quench the endless thirst of an eternal globetrotter, travelers everywhere have been enjoying the gift that keeps giving: technology. No matter where you go in today’s world, there is going to be a digital camera, offline map app, or even a camera flashlight that will accompany you and make your trips just a little bit more comfortable.
Unfortunately, as technology has evolved, so also has the common criminal. In an age where identity theft is an all too regular occurrence, devices and user data should be protected from prying malicious attacks at all costs.
Open Wifi networks and malicious software await travelers at every step of their journey, so using devices while on the road should undoubtedly require the same level of care as a wallet or passport.
Thankfully, there are several helpful hints and services that will help you stay clear of trouble. Let’s take a look at the three best ways to protect your data while on the road.
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Passwords are there for a reason. Any modern phone, tablet, or laptop has some sort of password or short passcode protection. While it may sound somewhat basic, it really is the first fundamental step in protecting your devices.
Also, if you already going to take the initiative and have some sort of password on your devices, please take the extra time to create a fairly complex one.
Typically, passwords that are all too common such as a 1111, 0000 or “first+last name, prove to be much easier to exploit. Use some combination of numbers, symbols and letters (upper and lower case) in order to better protect yourself.
Backup Data and Update Software!
Sure, that daily antivirus update notification is pretty annoying, but it is also pretty important to your laptop’s well-being. With new threats emerging daily, keeping an up-to-date antivirus will help your computer in the battle against external threats.
Another simple solution that tends to be overlooked is creating a backup of your device, thus ensuring that valuable data is not permanently lost or compromised.
This is a slightly more technical aspect of data security, but doing a little research will help you to find the best backup/storage plan for your devices.
Beware of the “Open WiFi Network”
Let’s face the truth, we have all been at the point where we were at a point of desperation, connected to an open and unprotected WiFi network in order to access the internet. What you may be unaware of is that you are unknowingly consenting to your internet traffic (including passwords) being open for viewing over a public network.
What is increasingly worrisome is how clever and dangerous “fake hot-spots” have developed into. Designed to fool the connecting user into thinking they are accessing a free WiFi network at a high-traffic area (airports, hotels, restaurants) they siphon off personal data and sell it to identity thieves on the digital black market.
When out in the open at a public place, take the extra moment to ensure that you are connecting to a network that requires a password, the more private the better.
A Bonus Tip:
A very efficient way to safeguard your laptop and devices while connecting to WiFi networks abroad is to invest in a VPN service, which will encrypt your data as you access the internet to protect you from eavesdroppers and other threats.
VPNs operate like a tunnel, where your information can only be seen between you and the other side of the connection. VPN’s also have a nice added bonus where you can access location-restricted content, i.e Netflix, from anywhere in the globe.
Relatively cheap (around 5-10$ a month) and easy to use, a VPN is well worth the investment if you are looking to spend any time overseas. To find more information on and how to buy one, check out BestVPN.com. Keep in mind if you’re traveling to a country like China, you’ll need a VPN which is specifically known to work against the government firewall.
Protecting Your Data While Traveling Abroad
While it is important to protect your belongings (wallet, clothes, etc) while traveling, we are advancing further into a digital age where more and more devices are necessary. As the common pickpocket and con artist has evolved into a modern day digital predator, travelers should be increasingly safeguarding their devices and the data on them.
These devices and their security need to find their way to the same mental checklist that any traveler has before their departure.
Following the above 3 simple tips will help ensure that not only will your data will be safe, but also give you the feeling of peace of mind that is oh-so regularly absent from travel plans.
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About the Author: Thomas Ujj is an expat/traveler and IT enthusiast with a passion for security and privacy. When he isn’t planning his next trip, he likes to take time to practice his Italian cooking as well as religiously watching Italian football team AS Roma.
Unfortunately, cooking and watching football games doesn’t always equal paychecks, so he writes for SmartDNS.com as well.