ONLINE ON HOLIDAYS? WHY AND HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM STEALING OF YOUR DATA?
The last two weeks of vacation are ahead of us, the last fourteen days of relaxation and unhurried existence. For many, rest from work means cutting off from the working desk, computer and...social media. At least some of us, but I know from an autopsy that in practice it may look completely different! ;)
We don't really part with our phones anymore, and thus, we are online almost all the time and therefore we send to the world, most often unconsciously, countless information about our location, preferences, contacts, purchases, transactions, accounts, etc. As if to think deeper about it, we become absolutely transparent to anyone who would like to know something about us. It's not a big problem, while we use secure internet sources at home or at work, but things are quite different when we are traveling. Free wi-fi networks are usually unsecured, which means that if you use them, your data is saved and can be used e.g. by advertisers, or worse, by unauthorized people! This may seem harmless, but the amount of spam that we receive every day is only the beginning for what is threatening us if we approach the topic disparagingly. Fortunately, there are several proven ways to defend yourself against surveillance.
1. Do YOU KNOW WHY INTERNET SECURITY IS SO IMPORTANT DURING HOLIDAYS?
The good news is that more and more people take care of their safety during the holidays, buying e.g. travel insurance, vaccinating or even properly protecting the skin from the sun. However, few of us protect their mobile devices, i.e. phones, tablets and laptops, when traveling. What problems can occur?
The biggest danger is of course the data theft, which is much easier from devices using unsecured networks. This should not be confused with 'cookie' files. Cookies, i.e. information collected by website owners to better tailor their content to users, because this data in no way can identify the user's identity.
Physical theft may also occur if you lose your device and data stored on it. Unfortunately, such thefts are quite common, especially on carefree tourists. Another problem you may encounter during the holidays is top-down government blocking of some websites. When traveling abroad and using public networks you must be aware that censorship may apply in a given country and you will not be able to e.g. log in to your Instagram account if for some reason it is banned in that country.
So how do you defend yourself and avoid unpleasant surprises?
2. How to secure your data?
Encrypt disks and files - this is one of the most effective ways that protects your data even if your hardware is stolen.
Log in only to trusted wi-fi networks - if it is not absolutely necessary, avoid free internet networks with suspicious names that you can "catch" in some cafe or hostel. If you need the Internet, go to a restaurant or cafe of a well-known brand, or to the local library, and always turn off the possibility of automatics connection to the Wi-Fi network when you stop using it.
Use VPN software - VPN allows you to securely connect to the Internet and provides the highest data protection by hiding your online activity and encrypting connections. All you have to do is turn on the software when connecting to the network and immediately become invisible to the environment, which means that hackers cannot track you and the censorship of a given country does not apply to you, because no one can check which sites you visit.
Update the system and software - updates are used not only to improve the functions of the software, but also to increase the security of data protection stored on the device, so before leaving, make sure that all programs, especially antivirus, are up to date.
Bake-up your files - it's worth having a spare external drive at home to which you can copy or move all the most important data and files.
Protect your USB port - on vacation you can find yourself in different, unusual situations and e.g. you can even spend them with strangers. Instead of copying shared photos on the spot from a unknown pendrive, you’d better ask for the files to be sent to you upon return, e.g. via WeTransfer.
These tips are intended to make you aware of the dangers we face when online while traveling, and how to protect ourselves from these dangers, especially if you can avoid unpleasant situations at low cost and go on holiday without a worry. The above activities should be properly used throughout the year, because not only on trips we will face the threat of theft of our data and the devices storing them. On a daily basis, however, it is hard to imagine that someone could come into possession of all our passwords, private information, photos, or view our online activities. That is why it is worth paying attention to this problem and to spread the awareness!
And do you care about your online safety, not only on the road, but every day? Maybe you still know other ways to check protection? Please share them with others in the comments!