Sam - August 19, 2016
Accessing the internet has become a daily habit in most of our lives. It is a useful tool that allows us to stay connected with our friends and family, access important information and make our day to day life more convenient than ever.
This is even more the case when travelling. From booking hotels to letting your family know how you’re doing, using the internet is something most travellers will do fairly frequently.
Recently the number of of free wifi connections you will likely encounter during your trip has drastically increased. Available in bars, hotels and coffee shops throughout the world, free wifi is convenient and allows you to access the internet in a number of places.
Of course, all this free wifi and cheap internet cafes don’t come without their risks. From hackers watching your wifi to old pc’s riddled with viruses there are many things to watch out for while using the internet abroad (as there of course are at home too).
This article will alert you of some of the potential dangers, as well as of some of the effective ways you can protect yourself.
When using public wifi
Consider which wifi connections you use
The abundance of free wifi you’ll come across when travelling can be an absolute godsend. Those worrying moments when you arrive in a new city only to have absolutely no idea about where anything is can be solved in a second by some free wifi in a cafe or or bar.
What you need to remember though is that these connections aren’t necessarily secure. Think about it, if you are able to access the wifi, that of course means many other people are also able to access it.
When using wifi try to use ones that require a password, as you at least know that there is some limit to the people who use these connections. Also it will probably be best to avoid typing in any sensitive data and especially making payments on these connections.
Use a VPN
One way to make these connections safer is to use a VPN. A VPN will encrypt all data that travels from your device which will make it much harder for anyone looking in to see what you are doing online.
If you ever need to use a public wifi connection a VPN can certainly make it a little safer to do so.
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When using public computers
Use caution when logging onto public computers
If you don’t have a device that allows you to connect to the internet with you, internet cafes or public computers can be really helpful.
However, have you ever been stuck at one of these computers, with each page taking ages to load? Of course you have! That is because most of the time, these computers aren’t exactly in the best shape. What with years of public use and often no one really caring enough to look after them, these computers can be a security nightmare.
As well as viruses, it is possible for people to install keyboard tracking software that checks for passwords as well as a whole host of other nasties.
As with public wifi, it is advisable to use caution when using these computers. Try to avoid putting in too much sensitive data when using them.
Check the settings on internet cafe computers
Even if the computer is clean, you should also make sure to check things such as browser settings. Browsers often (innocently) try to do things like save your passwords and login data so you should make sure this isn’t the case before using these computers. At the very least, if the browser has an incognito mode you should probably try to use it.
Make sure your passwords are strong
Using strong passwords is a sensible idea whether you are travelling or not. Use a combination of lower/upper case letters, numbers, and special characters to really make your password as strong as possible.
You should also keep it to at least eight characters and try to change your password as often as possible. Finally try not to use the same password for every account you have.
Use https sites
If you can, type in https into your browser before the www. instead of http. If you do this and a padlock appears next to the address, it means your connection is encrypted. Many sites such as Gmail and Facebook offer this service and it makes it much harder for people to steal your data when using these sites.
Use your cell phone data if you have a decent plan
One thing to consider is using your phone’s data when travelling abroad. A lot of phone networks offer some kind of international data roaming plan that can be cheaper than expected.
As well as the huge convenience that having your own data gives you, data you send on your phone’s network is usually much harder to incept than data sent on a wifi network.
Of course you should confirm with your network about what their exact rules and regulations are in relation to using you phone abroad.
The availability of the internet has arguably made travelling much easier than ever before. It is a convenient solution to many problems and allows travellers to stay in contact with the the people they care about.
While it should not be ignored, a little vigilance when using the internet abroad can help keep you and your data safe and ensure you have the best possible trip away!
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