Data theft is an increasing problem and travellers are among those at greatest risk. With a few simple precautions you can stay safe online.
How to avoid data-theft while travelling
Free Wi-Fi hot spots are great – especially when you are travelling. Keep your international data charges down, free Viber/Skype calls to friends, catch up on emails, update social media, track your bank balance and upload your latest photos.
But how safe it is to use a “free-Wi-Fi” connection? Techies advise it takes minimal hacking skills to monitor and/or hijack communications over a public Wi-Fi network. Eavesdropping on emails and web browsing is as simple as pressing a button and travellers are more vulnerable than most having to rely on unfamiliar networks in new destinations. However, with a few simple precautions you can help to reduce the risk.
The security of your Wi-Fi connection is as important as the security of your passport.
- Use Wi-Fi services in reputable places
- Remember: a password to log-on to the network doesn’t guarantee security – a hacker will get the password just as easily as you did
- Check the network name carefully. Hackers can set up dummy networks which mimic the free network you really want to use. They’ll still be providing you with an internet connection so you won’t know there’s any issue, but they’ll also be collecting all of the data from your session
- Avoid shoulder surfing. No matter how secure your internet connection is, you’re at risk if someone can see your screen over your shoulder
- Don’t use the same password for all of your online applications
- Always log-out of applications at the end of each session
- Avoid online purchases and banking transactions over an open network
- Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN); this creates a secure connection to the internet. There are free and subscription options available. Make sure you get one that best matches your needs.
Video courtesy of The Federal Trade Commission
Charging stations and kiosks are popping up everywhere and seem a convenient way to keep your device fully charged while you travel around. However, tech experts warn that hackers can rig the charging station and intercept data and downloads. This latest hack is commonly known as “Juice-jacking”.
“Juice jacking” is the theft of personal data through a public charging point.
To limit risk, we’d suggest the following:
- If you are using a USB charging station power off your device completely before charging (fully off, not switching to standby)
- Only use charging stations in places that would be difficult to be tampered – airports or a busy hotel lobby (although this doesn’t guarantee safety). Avoid, charging stations in quiet areas
- If you like the convenience of charging via third party devices invest in a power-only USB cable
- Password protect the data-transfer feature on your device
- Carry a spare battery or a solar charger so you are less reliant on charging stations
- Avoid plugging in to someone else’s computer or lap-top to charge your device; you risk transfer of a virus or malware (in either direction)
- Ultimately, the safest way to charge your device is using a charging adapter and plug socket connection.
The safest way to charge your device is using a charging adapter and plug socket connection.
Finally, a word about device theft. Lap-tops, tablets and mobile phones are at high risk of theft. Please take good care of them.
- Don’t leave them on-charge unattended
- Keep them out of sight when walking around
- When using them be sensitive to your surroundings
- Before leaving home, remove sensitive documents from your device to limit the potential loss
- Always log-out of applications after a session
- Always protect access to your device with a password.
We have more useful information about travel safety here.
Is your insurance adequate?
Many insurance policies limit the cover for valuable items and this can include mobile phones/tablets/laptops. Always check the policy carefully to understand any limitations in the insurance, excess charges and maximum cover amounts.
Still looking for travel insurance?
Check out our comprehensive travel insurance information and get quotes/buy online here: