International traveler’s guide to online privacy
International communication has come of age and a little bit easier than in the past years. Smartphones, lightweight laptops, and high-speed wireless connection alias Wi-Fi, has made staying connected to your home while you’re abroad an easy task. However, this huge forward step in technology has brought its fair share of cyber security concerns, more so for international travelers.
This may appear too obvious, but you are subject to the laws and regulations of the country you’re visiting from the very first moment you enter the front door. A cyber security breach that not every person worries about may occur at border crossings. Depending on your destination, electronic gadgets such as tablets, digital cameras, smartphones, and laptops may be put under official government review, and in some cases, duplication of hard drives as well as other storage media. Security concerns don’t end here. Depending on your destination, your devices may get exposed to viruses, activity tracking or other malicious software by simply connecting to that country’s network.
Although there’s no specific list of countries that take a look and probably snoop, seize or copy travelers’ data from their devices, but there are reports indicating that this could and does happen. When entering another country, it’s always good to take some steps before arriving to make sure your personal data is protected from the very moment you arrive to the moment you depart. Here’s a list of that you need to do:
You should encrypt the data in your laptop to ensure that it remains concealed to unauthorized access. Both Apple and Microsoft have tools to get this done. However, you can’t afford to forget your password. You may have activated this in case you use a company laptop. So you should check with the IT security department before you travel.
Use a VPN
Using a VPN is something else you can do to protect your personal or corporate data as you travel. Going through VPNpro’s review you’ll be able to see how using a VPN can be helpful. A VPN will encrypt your entire web session. In case you connect to the destination country’s network, a VPN will secure every website just as safe as a bank site. It will also compress all the traffic on the server before you receive it allowing you to have more access to your personal data.
Back up your data
In case you spend some time of the flight crafting some presentations, it’s important you back them up while still on the flight, just in case your device is searched or seized once you land. Just before you leave your house, you should back all photos on your smartphone using services like Google Photos and Apple iCloud.
Before leaving your house, make sure you delete of all your browser history and cookies that could still be signed into email and social media accounts. In addition, you need to sign out of all apps on your tablet or smartphone that may contain your identifiable information. This may include social media apps, storage sites like Dropbox and Google Drive, calendars, email apps, note apps and more. What if you delete the apps altogether? You’ll get them back when you return after all. Disable the fingerprint reader on your device. You can reboot your phone before arriving at the border so that a PIN or password is required.
Be careful when you connect to a public Wi-Fi
Device theft is an obvious threat and it’s easy to trace it, but some threats, like bad guys trying to pick off passwords to compromise your information or access your accounts, are invisible. Your personal data is vulnerable in areas with open Wi-Fi connection, such as cyber cafes, travel agencies, clinics, shops, hotels, and airports. Here are some important tips:
- Don’t use public Wi-Fi to make online payments or access your bank accounts.
- Shut off your phone’s auto-join function when logging into a public network.
- Don’t use PIN numbers or passwords abroad similar to those you use at home.
- Adjust your phone settings to automatically forget the public network, so you have to log in again.
- Purposefully try to login into the public network using a wrong password. If it works, then it’s a sign that the network isn’t secure.
Don’t leave any of your devices unattended
Someone having physical control of your device is one of the easiest ways to access your data. Simply don’t leave any device unattended, lend it to a stranger or leave it in your bag on your flight. If you have to leave your laptop, make sure you switch it off instead of putting to sleep or hibernating it.
After the trip
Reset any credentials you used abroad as they might be compromised. Use a trusted computer to reset the credentials you used during the trip. Update the security software and reset all your passwords on all devices when you return home.
Find a way of protecting your personal or corporate data when you travel abroad. It would even be far safe if you would find a separate device to use when you are away. Don’t login into any account if you don’t have to.