How to Stay Safe on Public WiFi.
One of the biggest online threats for travelers is free public WiFi. Hackers often position themselves as free WiFi hotspots and steal personal information, credit card details, and other data--and many identity thieves are using wireless sniffers, a type of software designed to intercept and decode data when it is transmitted over a network.
"WiFi today is indispensable for travelers. We need it to book hotels, trips, experiences, and stay in contact with our family and friends. Even maps or travel itineraries are mostly online these days," says Daniel Markuson, a digital privacy specialist at NordVPN.
"By the way," he adds, "if you think your hotel's WiFi is more secure, it's probably not. Their job is to offer you comfort, not cybersecurity, so they typically put little to no effort in protecting their guest network."
If the network is left unprotected, chances are some cybercriminal is lurking there to steal your private data. On the other hand, hackers themselves often create rogue hotspots to trick users into thinking they are legitimate. If you see two similar WiFi names, ask the hotel's staff which is the real one. Finally, always avoid logging onto work or banking accounts while on public WiFi unless absolutely necessary.
You only should use the websites that have URLs starting with "https://"--the "s" means that it is a secure protocol and your data is encrypted properly. Utilizing https:// sites especially is important if you are shopping online or paying for hotels, trips, or experiences using your credit card details.
Most operating systems have a built-in firewall these days, which keeps outsiders from going through your computer's data. A firewall is easy to enable: simply check your system preferences or control panel instructions. The firewall will not completely protect from hacks, but it is a useful tool if used in combination with other security-enhancing services.
Antivirus software is highly recommended to use at all times to protect your network from malware. However, using an antivirus only is not enough to keep your system secure. Hackers can check whether antivirus will detect malware and, if so, they can modify the malicious code and try again.
A VPN is a preferred tool for travelers, as it encrypts all the traffic flow between the Internet and a user's device and helps hide the IP address. Beware of free VPN service providers that typically rely on third-party advertisers to cover the costs. Often they are free proxy services marketed as VPNs, which is not accurate: they change your IP address, but do not encrypt your Internet traffic.
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|Publication:||USA Today (Magazine)|
|Date:||Apr 1, 2019|
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