The Internet or Online security while traveling is a major concern for us. Connecting to the Internet outside of your home or office opens up more doors for hackers and snoops to invade your privacy. The main culprit is public Wi-Fi hotspots, which travelers often use on the go. Unfortunately, public Wi-Fi hotspots can be compromised by hackers or even the companies running them. They can collect personal data, monitor your activity, and serve adware or other viruses. Because travelers might only use a particular public Wi-Fi hotspot one time, it can be difficult to trace an attacker back to the source.
Improve Your Online Security While Traveling
Whether you’re a long-term digital nomad, or you’re just taking a week-long business trip, here are three simple tools to beef up security and ensure privacy when on the road.
1. Use a VPN
A VPN, or virtual private network, creates a sort of tunnel that routes your Internet traffic to a secure server to a location of the user’s choosing. Because the connection is encrypted, no one can see into the tunnel to monitor activity or collect information. It makes surfing the web more anonymous by masking your real location and IP address. Some providers, like ExpressVPN, go the extra mile by promising never to keep logs on user activity, so there’s no way your activity can be traced.
VPNs not only improve security, but they also help get around corporate and government firewalls. If Facebook is blocked, for instance, a VPN can unblock it. VPNs can even make location-restricted content available. Want the US catalog for Netflix and Spotify while traveling in Europe? No problem! Simply connect to any server in the US.
2. Install an Ad Blocker
One of the most common ways nefarious public Wi-Fi hotspots invade your privacy is by injecting additional advertisements into websites and apps. If you click on these ads, they can download malware or more adware to your computer. This can cause numerous viruses and can make your computer more vulnerable to hacks. A simple fix is to install an ad-blocking extension on your browser.
Ad Blockers like Ad Block Plus (ABP) and Privacy Badger can allow white-listed ads to be shown on web pages, so you can still support websites that have ads known to be non-threatening. All other ads will be removed from the page.
3. Only Browse HTTPS-Secured Sites
Many websites have two versions of each page: HTTP and HTTPS. When you click in the address bar of your browser, you’ll usually see one or the other prepended to the website URL. The ‘S’ on the latter stands for “Secure,” and is preferable especially when traveling. It means the connection between your computer and the website is encrypted, so no one else can see it. Anytime you divulge personal or sensitive information online, always check to make sure that the website is using HTTPS, whether you are at home or elsewhere.
The easiest way to ensure you’re always using HTTPS whenever possible is by installing HTTPS Everywhere. The extension will automatically direct you to the HTTPS version of a web page if it exists. The extension was created by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit organization that defends online civil liberties, which also makes Privacy Badger.
By following these simple tips, you’ll give your online security a much-needed boost while making Wi-Fi hotspots more convenient. Happy traveling!
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