Planning a trip these days involves all of the ordinary things: booking reservations, checking into your flight via smartphone, and packing your favorite devices for your upcoming journey. These tools have become critical for not only a business traveler, but also the mere tourist as well. With so many devices at our disposal to make our lives easier, what can we do to protect them from prying eyes?
Unfortunately, most people think they are going to be safe with just a password and an antivirus program. These solutions are simply not enough in the ever-increasing world of data thieves and spies. The sad truth is that not only are you at risk from these hackers, but also various governments as well. As we all know from the Edward Snowden revelations, nobody is safe, even when it involves their country. So, what steps can you take to protect yourself from these potential snoopers? Let’s take a look.
“Lock the front door.”
Long gone are the days where a simple password can keep someone from accessing your laptop or smartphone. Even still, having a solid password is still the best way to protect your data and to give the thief the necessary challenge when it comes to accessing your data. Make sure you are using a password that is unique and full of special characters (numbers, symbols etc.), giving that extra layer of protection. An additional step you can take is to create passwords for individual folders (containing your most valuable files), which you can read more about here
Secure your Wi-Fi Connection
Let’s face it, we are all living in an age where Wi-Fi access is seemingly more important than a bathroom or any other basic need. When traveling, most people don’t have roaming data plans, so spotting an open Wi-Fi network can seem like a savior in certain situations. What you may not be thinking about right away is who the actual owner of the wireless network is. Whether it’s at a hotel in hotel in New York
or Chicago O’Hare International Airport
, fake hotspots created by hackers are becoming more and more common in heavy traffic areas. Make sure you always ask for the network’s exact name as well as making sure that there is some password or encryption (WEP or WPA security) on the network before connecting. Another thing that some people may forget is to disable file sharing on a network before connecting, as this makes also makes it harder for people to access your files.
Invest in a VPN service
Even with securing your data with passwords, firewalls, and a safe network connection, it is still possible for someone to hack your data. An extra step that you may consider taking is utilizing a VPN to encrypt your internet connection. A VPN would be most effective for a business traveler or someone who is traveling with lots of sensitive data on their device. VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) operate like a “virtual wormhole”, establishing a tunnel connection between your device and a server. The data that you send and receive is all encrypted by this tunnel, protecting your data from any unwanted exposure. Most VPN services will cost between 5-10 dollars a month, but there are numerous trials and coupons available. To learn more about VPN’s and see a list of providers, check out bestvpn.com
So there you have it, three ways to protect your data while on the road. Whether you are a savvy business traveler or a post-college backpacker, data security is increasingly important in the digital age. Common pickpockets have evolved into even more dangerous hackers, capable of massive problems. While it’s important to remember that physically securing your devices are also critical for data protection, taking the above steps is the best solution to ensuring your data is secure.
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 the 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