4 Ways to Protect Your Privacy While Traveling

Media Division | August 31, 2015

Traveling is one of the most rewarding things anyone could do in either short or long stretches of time. The things you learn from different surroundings and cultures are vast, endless, and always inspiring. Unfortunately, there are hazards attached to traveling, and the possibility of losing your privacy is one of them.

According to a report by CNN, travelers jeopardize their privacy all the time without being aware of it. Also, a recent warning released by the FBI states that hackers target travelers when they log into Wi-Fi in public places and in hotels overseas.

The alert came from FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center and was specifically addressed to executives, government workers, and academic instructors from the United States. The statement mentioned several incidents when travelers came across fake software pop-ups that turned out to be malicious software entering their devices.

While there will always be cyber risks down the road, there are ways to secure your privacy, and below are some of them.

1. Be Smart When Using Wi-Fi Overseas

Cyber criminals often target travelers through public or hoax Wi-Fi connections that usually appear on top of the network list. Hackers deploy these “hotspots” at airports, conference centers, and hotels that get a lot of travel traffic. When travelers connect to these malicious hotspots, hackers can dissect the traffic going through them. In fact, there are devices that can be used to hijack them.

The best way to prevent your private data from being hijacked is to avoid connecting to Wi-Fi networks that don’t seem legit. These connections often have uncommon names, but hackers may use famous brand names to make them seem legit. In the latter case, see around to verify that a brand is actually present before connecting to their Wi-Fi network.

2. Don’t Conduct Sensitive Transactions Via Public HotSpots

A study conducted by Pew Research reveals that 21 percent of all Internet users have had either a social networking or an email account compromised without permission, and 11 percent online users have had lost important data such as social security as well as credit card information. These cyber crimes occur when a user connects to a public hotspot that has been infiltrated by an adversary.

One way to keep these kinds of information safe is by refraining from making sensitive transactions when connected to public hotspots. In case there is a dire need to perform such transactions, use a VPN. This would ensure the encrypted data passes through the VPN server where it is made anonymous before it reaches the web. Therefore, anyone snooping on traffic over the hotspot will just see jumbled data passing between your device and the VPN server.

3. Be Wary of Your Surroundings

In busy public places all over the world, an adversary can just look over your shoulder and instantly know the kind of sensitive information that he or she needs. Purchasing privacy screen protectors for laptops is a good investment and it prevents prying eyes from finding out what they need.

Each week, 12,000 laptops get lost in airports all across the United States, and one way to prevent yourself from being included in this statistic is to invest in a tracking lock security steel cable. It’s also important to never leave any device unattended. The laptop bag should be kept at the front when you engage in a conversation with someone unknown, especially during busy hours at the train station/airport.

4. Adjust the Privacy Settings of Social Media Accounts

For some travelers, being away almost instantly means collecting photos to share via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. As satisfying it is to share photos of scenery and party moments during a trip, it is better to adjust the privacy settings before doing so. Even if a traveler does not post photos on their own, photos tagged by friends while on a trip can appear on a contact’s timeline instantly.

An intriguing photo that involves bottles of alcohol or scantily clad fellow travelers might end up on an employer’s feed, and it could have certain effects. Not only can these photos jeopardize a traveler’s professionalism, but it could also expose the kind of lifestyle one follows while being carefree on the roads. Furthermore, identity thieves could use these photos for illicit activity. The best solution is to adjust the privacy settings of your accounts before flying off.

Apart from following these tips, you can add extra layers of protection by investing in two-factor authentication, anti-virus software and device tracking software. Moreover, Turning off geotagging and geolocation features on your devices will make it difficult to track your location, which would significantly improve the level of privacy.

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