Is it time for some fun in the sun? While vacations are meant to provide rest and relaxation, some travelers find themselves dealing with the serious repercussions of a hack through their laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
There’s always the risk of being hacked, but a change in your routine and location can increase these risks. Learn how to access accounts securely during vacation and lessen your chance of being hacked with the following tips.
1. Set Up a VPN
Smartphones are constantly connected to the internet. If your phone is syncing emails or social media accounts while you take in the sights on vacation, you could be leaving yourself vulnerable to hacking.
A VPN, or virtual private network, is a service that provides a secure internet connection, whether you’re traveling halfway around the world or to the local grocery store.
The service uses private servers in remote locations and all traveling data is securely encrypted through the VPN server. This prevents hackers from being able to read data, should they be able to intercept it.
Installing a VPN on your smartphone, tablet, or laptop only takes a few minutes. Once you’re set up, you’ll be able to transfer data with confidence.
There are a few criteria to consider when searching for a VPN vendor. If you plan on traveling abroad, look for a VPN vendor that can support you across oceans. For example, some services don’t allow you to stream data from certain sites, like Netflix.
You should also look for a vendor with great customer service, especially if you’re new to using a VPN.
2. Be Smart About Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi hotspots are great for travelers. You can quickly log on to your social media platforms, check your email, or transfer funds between bank accounts, all while on the go. In fact, over 90% of Americans have potentially put their information at risk by using Wi-Fi hotspots.
But because just about anyone can sign on to free Wi-Fi in a coffee shop or hotel lobby, there’s always a chance a hacker with an intent to steal personal information could be lurking on the same Wi-Fi network you’re using.
Even Wi-Fi hotspots with passwords aren’t much more secure than those without. Often times, passwords are set up by companies so only paying customers have access to the network. A hacker can buy a cup of coffee and request the password to a Wi-Fi network just as easily as you can, so don’t let a password requirement make you feel more secure.
So, what if you still use Wi-Fi hotspots but with a VPN set up on your smartphone or laptop? This may help prevent passwords or credit card information from being stolen, but it won’t protect you from malware infecting your device. Make sure your devices are not set to automatically connect to Wi-Fi hotspots, especially when on vacation.
Your phone’s cellular data connection offers more protection than public Wi-Fi. While data can get expensive, the additional cost is worth minimizing the risk of stolen credit card numbers, passwords, or bank account information.
3. Take Additional Security Measures
- Downloading apps: It’s not uncommon to want a few more apps on your smartphone when traveling. Whether you’re looking for help finding travel deals or fun tourist attractions, you’ll want to be careful with what apps you do decide to install. While legitimate sources such as the Apple App Store and Google Play have strong security measures in place, downloading apps from third-party stores can be dangerous. Your guard should always be up when it comes to downloading from a less popular source.
- Don’t download everything: Make sure you’re also on the lookout for what are known as drive-by downloads, or downloads that occur without your consent. These downloads often contain malicious software hidden in pop-ups or email links.
- Security software for everyone: Before you leave, install security software (if you don’t already use it). This should be done on all your devices and the service should offer real-time protection against existing and emerging malware.
- Update your apps: Do you ever ignore notifications to update your software? Now’s the time to catch up on any and all apps and software updates. These updates often add or enhance security on your device. Finally, make sure you implement lock-screen security to protect your devices in the event of loss or theft.
Vacation should be relaxing. Using your devices is a great way to document memories, find the best local experiences, and keep up on personal responsibilities like emails and finances when you have a free moment.
Just remember to access your accounts responsibly. Encrypt your data, skip the Wi-Fi hotspots if you have the possibility, and use security software. Avira provides a variety of security options like Avira Prime to protect your devices, whether you’re at home or traveling the world.
Don’t let the threat of personal data theft get you down. Learn how to access accounts securely during vacation, take the proper steps, and then enjoy your time away!