Cyber Security Overseas

When we travel overseas, there’s a good chance we’ll want, or need, to use WiFi on our devices (phones, tablets, or laptops) to stay connected with friends and family back home, or to stay on top of work projects. Whatever your reasons, there are some basic things that you can do to help make sure your device—and the information on it—is more secure. These are just a few tips that we would recommend to anyone planning on using public WiFi accounts while traveling.

1. Make sure you enable “two-factor” authentication. What is this? Two-factor authentication is a security measure that means anytime you try to log-on to an account (i.e. your Gmail or Yahoo account) or an app, on a new device, you will be asked to answer two forms of identification. This makes it very difficult for hackers to gain access to your accounts or devices via a WiFi attack. An example of this method: you can set up your Gmail account so that it requires a password followed up by a code that will be sent to your phone via text each time someone tries to access your account from a new device. You can look up how to set up two-factor authentication on your devices and apps by doing a search on Google.

2. While connected to public networks, ignore update/installation notifications. Hackers may try to trick WiFi users with update or download prompts that are actually viruses in disguise.

It’s a good rule of thumb to make sure all of your apps and programs are updated before you leave on your trip, so that you don’t need to make any updates while you’re away from your trusted WiFi network at home. Avoid updating or downloading software while you are on a public WiFi network during your trip.

3. Make sure your device is disconnected from WiFi while not in use and set it so that it “forgets” WiFi networks. When you aren’t actively using your WiFi, disconnect your device from it. Staying connected when you aren’t using it will only expose you to a higher chance of being hacked or attacked digitally. Also, if your device offers to “remember” a network that you’ve connected with, make sure you decline the offer. Set it so that it “forgets” previously used networks and doesn’t automatically connect with them whenever you are within range.

4. Use a VPN.
A VPN is a “virtual private network.” It keeps your browsing activity secure by encrypting the traffic between the server and your device. You can set up a VPN for laptops, tablets, and mobile devices. Experts recommend setting up a VPN and having it ready to go on each device you plan to take with you—before you leave on your trip.