By Praveen Kannan and Anna Strokolyst The Hotspot Shield team believes the internet should be open and secure …
Do you exercise smart travel decisions when headed abroad? There are certain things you need to know before you go. Here are some common travel mistakes people make as they leave the comfort of home.
Using a debit card
Yes, debit cards are convenient, but they might not be the best way to get cash or to pay for things when traveling. Credit cards are much safer (and much easier to recoup cash if your card was stolen), but If you have to use your debit card, here are some tips:
- Use a chip card – EMV chip cards are safer to use than those cards with only the black strip.
- Block the view – If you are using a PIN, shield the number pad as you type.
- Use a card with a low balance – Consider setting up a separate debit card account with a small balance. This way, if you lose your card and someone gets it, there won’t be a lot of money to steal.
- Use a digital wallet – Instead of using physical cards, set up a digital wallet like Android Pay or Apply Pay.
Connecting to public WiFi
If you are traveling with a computer, tablet, or smartphone, logging on to public WiFi is very tempting. But, try to avoid it unless you are connected through a Virtual Private Network (VPN). If you have to use public Wi-Fi, stay safe with these tips:
- Get the correct network name – Make sure you are connecting to the right network. Hackers set up fake networks all the time, and they are often made to look legitimate, i.e. “Diner Wi-Fi,” “Motel Guests,” or “Free WiFi,” etc.
- Use a VPN – Only connect to an unsecured public WiFi network if you are connected via a VPN. Hotspot Shield VPN will scramble your data and protect your information from spying eyes, significantly reducing the risk of getting hacked.
- Avoid certain sites – Try to avoid websites that contain your sensitive information, such as banking or credit card sites. Also, only go to the most secure version of a website, i.e. https:// instead of http://.
If you rent a car, it might be tempting to connect your phone via Bluetooth. Use caution, however. Your information, including call logs and contact lists, could be stored on the car’s infotainment system. If you must use Bluetooth in a rental car, make sure to fully erase the history before sending the car back.
Not understanding their rights
Finally, you should make sure that you know your rights when you travel. For example, some countries reserve the right to inspect the data on your devices, or don’t allow encrypted drives to be imported at all. If you are traveling internationally, you might want to look into the laws regarding digital information in the country you are traveling to. After all, you don’t want any surprises at airport security. You might also want to talk to an attorney specializing in international law. This way, if something happens, you know what your rights are no matter where in the world you travel.
To learn more about securing yourself on the web, be sure to read our guide on how to protect your online privacy. And most of all, whether you’re traveling near or far, remember to have fun.