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10 Ways to Stay Secure while Travelling

Protect your devices when using them on the road

With the advancement and the growth of new technologies, staying connected while on the road has become a common thing. More and more local areas now provide wireless internet access via Wi-Fi, allowing electronic devices to access the internet and share data. This all has created a new class of travellers who are always online, either using their mobile phones, smart phones, laptops or tablets.

But this ease of online access around the clock also leaves people and their electronic devices ever more exposed to online threats, putting their personal data at more risk. With almost non-stop internet access, there's a growing need to protect your data and electronic devices against a growing number of dangerous viruses, spyware and trojans.

Businessman using a laptop and mobile on a desk, with a pen
Modern electronic devices make online access "a breeze" when travelling,
but they also require more vigilance to protect them and your personal data
from online threats.

Online thefts of personal data

As more travellers start using public Wi-Fi spots to be online, to check their Facebook and Twitter status, access their messages and do their banking, cyber criminals are having a "field day" stealing personal information and hacking into personal accounts. This is evidenced by some the recent online thefts, such as:

These is but a small sample of the growing range of online problems around the world, experienced by major companies. Even more so in day-to-day individual cyber attacks. There's unfortunately a growing market for both legitimate and illegitimate personal data. You must take serious precautions to protect your data online.

Online security is your responsibility

As a result of these problems, companies have been strengthening their online security and the authorities have been coming up with more stringent fines for cyber crimes. However, ultimately "the buck stops with you" - meaning that in the end you must take every step to protect your data and electronic devices, instead of relying on third parties to do it for you. It's your responsibility.

It's important that you implement certain steps for online security whenever online and especially when you're travelling. By taking sensible precautions, you will prevent your personal data from being compromised.

Public hotspots

Public hotspots are growing in their number these days. From the local coffee shops, restaurants and hotels, to the airports and even large city areas, Wi-Fi access is becoming ever more present.

While this makes it easier to stay online and in touch with others, it also makes you more vulnerable to cyber attacks. These public hotspots are usually open and conducted on unsecure networks, where a hacker can listen in to whatever you're communicating and typing online. Exercise umost care when using public hotspots.

Man sitting in lotus position in a city, using laptop
The growing network of public hotspots makes for trouble-free Wi-Fi online access
when travelling, but it also leaves you more vulnerable to online attacks.

Computer Network Settings

It is advisable to enable your firewall when it comes to using public networks. This is done by default when you have installed windows operating system. But if you are not sure you can open the "Control Panel" then go to "Windows Firewall". Make sure that the boxes next to "turn on Windows Firewall" and "notify me when Windows Firewall blocks a new app" are on.

Turn Off All Sharing

This removes anything that you had previously shared. Files in this or these folders can be accessed by anybody in the same network and can be copied. This can be done in the following manner.

  • Open "Network and Sharing Center" from "Control Panel". 
  • In the settings page, click on the "Change private advanced sharing settings" located in the left side of the window. 
  • Then under "Private, Files and printer sharing. Guest or public", turn off network discovery. 
  • Make sure to click "Save" for them to take effect. Also turn off "file and printer sharing". 

Instal an Antivirus on your computer and keep it updated

Having installed an antivirus program on your computer device is one of the easiest way to secure it from outside malicious attacks and connections. Antiviruses also come equipped with their own firewall. This adds a protection layer as its firewall is not easily hacked. Some of the best known antiviruses today include Avira, Kaspersky, Eset, Norton, Microsoft Security Essentials and Panda among others.

A person using an iPad
Take precautionary steps when using your electronic devices in public and on
public hotspot networks, to protect both your device and your personal data.

DO NOT ever let your device to automatically connect to an open network.

Always DELETE your access points as soon as you get home. In your phones, LOG OUT of all the apps that you really do not need when travelling.

Lock Your Devices

Lock your devices with strong password that cannot easily be hacked or guessed by the attackers. Use different passwords for all the accounts that you have. Avoid using some simple, easy to crack, lazy-mind passwords, such as 123abc, password (yes, a lot of people do that!?), myaccount, etc.

Always use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) when possible

Virtual Private Networks secure the connection even when it is on public Wi-Fi. Be very aware for people who might be trying to look over your shoulder as you are typing your password or passcodes. Also hide your device from public security cameras when typing your passwords or messages - better be safe than sorry.

If You Still Get Hacked or Your Device Gets Stolen

Depending on your electronic device, there are always steps to be taken should your account get hacked, or your device get stolen. Make note of who and where to call should your device get stolen. This should be done as soon as you buy it, but if you haven't done it yet, do it now. Keep that note apart from the device and your wallet, both of which are the things that get stolen the most, especially when you're travelling.

Change your passwords to stronger ones. It takes some effort, but you'll get a peace of mind and better protect your online access and your accounts. Make sure your electronic device has an auto-wipe feature, or app, in the case of android.

If your credit card gets stolen, phone or send a message to the credit card card company, to block futher use of it. Always be careful how your card or its number are used and never let it out of your sight in the shops.

A guest article by Ruby Andrew, an author and blogger by profession.

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