Are you going traveling this summer? Wi-Fi is like your lifeblood. Unless you have a nifty foreign data plan, Wi-Fi is what you use to Skype with friends back home, upload photos to cloud storage, check in with family, and perform all other essential tasks.
Whether you’re using a phone, tablet, or laptop, you’re a big target when traveling. Like it or not, you’re usually going to stand out as a tourist. You’re going to visit touristy places and do touristy things.
That doesn’t mean you have to get scammed like a tourist. Today, we’re highlighting some of the easiest and most effective ways to protect yourself on public Wi-Fi while traveling:
Don’t Trust Any Networks in Public Spaces Unless You’re 100% Sure
Scammers aren’t stupid: they know that people are constantly trying to connect to Wi-Fi in public spaces.
When you visit a major tourist attraction, you might be tempted to connect to something like “Free Eiffel Tower Public Wi-Fi” to upload your Instagram photos.
In reality, however, thieves will often setup networks like this specifically to steal your data. That network may look like a legit network offered by the city of Paris. But in reality, it could be a scam network setup by thieves.
Avoid connecting to any network in a public space unless you’re 100% sure it’s legitimate.
Enable a Firewall
Back home, when you’re connected to your network at your house or work, you may rely on your router’s firewall to protect you. When traveling abroad, you might not have that same protection.
You know those Windows Firewall messages you ignore in your system tray? Consider turning on Windows Firewall before you go traveling. It could be the last line of defense between you and an attacker. It’s not going to stop 100% of attacks, but it’s better than no defense.
Diversity your Passwords Before You Go
You’re going to be logging into a lot of different things across a lot of different networks. There’s a chance that one of your passwords could leak out at some point along the way – either by someone spying on the network or by a fellow hostel guest looking over your shoulder.
Whatever the situation may be, traveling gives you a good excuse to diversify your passwords. Make sure the password you use to login to Facebook, Twitter, online banking, and your email are all different. If you have trouble keeping track, use a password manager.
Always Use Sites with HTTPS
Even if a public Wi-Fi network is compromised, you can still protect your data when it’s transmitted over HTTPS. This encrypts all data sent between you and the server. Someone can still interpret that data, but it’s encrypted to a point where they cannot feasibly access it.
If you want to doubly protect yourself online, consider using HTTPS Everywhere, which forces your browser to request the HTTPS version of the site wherever possible.
Don’t Forget to Install Software Updates
When you’re away traveling, you might miss some major security bulletins and alerts. That’s why installing security updates is so important. Make sure you find time to restart Windows and install updates or install updates on your apps. You don’t want to be stuck with a non-updated version of your favorite apps or software.
Enable Two Step Authentication
This is the best tip I can give you before traveling. Two step verification, for many people, is the difference between losing their accounts entirely – and stopping an attacker before it’s too late.
Two step verification or authentication forces a site to request an additional piece of information before letting you logon. If you’re signing on from an unfamiliar location or from a new device, then the two step verification may kick into action and prompt you to enter a password sent to your phone.
Ultimately, enabling the tips listed above could be the difference between having a flawless vacation – or having the worst vacation of your life.