It’s no secret that we all need to be paying closer attention to our online security these days. Documentaries and exposes have been released non-stop, exploring the vile abuse that is occurring with our data. Things we thought were private we’re now learning is anything but, and data we thought was harmless when shared is actually causing a lot of trouble both on an individual level and on a national scale.
So we know that it’s important to monitor our online security. What many of us don’t know, however, is how crucial it is to be extra vigilant when we’re traveling. Not every government respects or treats privacy in the same way. Not every location has the same level of protection ongoing for those using the internet. Unknowingly, we might be breaking the rules or risking certain kinds of trouble later on down the road if we’re not careful about our online security while traveling. The following will explore some of the things that you can do to help protect yourself digitally while you’re traveling.
Learn About The Laws Where You’re Traveling
Before we dive into protective measures, it’s vital that when you travel, you understand the rules and regulations regarding digital behavior (and, let’s be honest, all other behaviors too). For example, did you know that it is illegal to use Facebook in China? There are always workarounds when it comes to the internet, of course, but if you’re going to be traveling there, you might want to be following the rules and therefore be looking for alternative social media options.
Choose One Main Method Of Communication And Secure It
When we’re traveling, usually those at home want to know that we’re safe and having a good time. This often means we’re sending messages back home. Not all services that help us accomplish this are protecting our data—in truth, most are not. Take email, for example. It might seem like those messages are only being read by you and the person you’re sending them to, but the truth is, this isn’t always the case. You might want to look into Gmail alternatives or reconsider any form of communication you typically use. Either tweak your usage of that service or seek out a service that has security measures that better meet your standards.
Think About Where You Store Digital ID
When traveling, many of us take photographs of our passports, tickets, bookings, and other important information and save them on our devices or email them to a friend. The idea is that if we were to lose or have the hard copy stolen, we’d be able to at least produce the digital version at the embassy or wherever we needed to show it to get help. Of course, you should be taking precautions like this, but you need to be careful about where you store these images and how you send them to friends or family members. Not all cloud services are keeping your data safe, and even the ones that are, run the risk of being hacked as cloud storage services are known as hotspots full of valuable data to cybercriminals. Do your research and make any necessary adjustments to keep your valuable information safe.
Avoid Checking Your Financial Information On Unsafe Wifi Or On Borrowed Devices
One of the easiest ways to get your money (or your identity) stolen is by online banking on insecure networks or devices. Yes, this can make things quite difficult for travelers as many of us like to keep an eye on our budgets while we’re moving about, but when you use someone else’s device (like a computer in the hostel common room) or a wireless network that others are also using, you run the risk of having your information stolen. Wait for hardwired connections in hotel rooms (ethernet cables are those old-fashioned cords that link your computer or laptop to the internet through a jack in the wall) before you enter any banking or financial information online.
The above tips should help you keep things safe and secure while you travel. Of course, every travel destination is different and therefore has different additional precautions that need to be taken. Before traveling anywhere new, it is always a good idea to research what sort of dangers exist in the new location and what steps can be taken to mitigate risks. Always read up extensively on the common types of cybercrime where you’re going and what you can do to protect yourself while you’re there. Additionally, you want to read the government recommendations regarding safe travel, which can typically be found on your home government’s website and the foreign government’s website.