Digital Safety and VPN for Travel
Cyber crime and digital theft are on the rise and are serious concerns for travelers. Public and semi-public Wi-Fi networks have become a mainstay for accessing the internet, messaging, checking email and data apps. Unfortunately, this leaves travelers open to stolen passwords, usernames, and credit card numbers. Often unencrypted, personal information is fair game for poachers and cyber thieves on the same network. Fellow travelers often report problems with credit cards and hacked email accounts during or following a trip after using public Wi-Fi networks. This could ruin any good memory created. But, there are some steps to take to ensure your digital safety while traveling.
Use Common Sense
Try to avoid accessing personal and sensitive information on public Wi-Fi networks. Checking bank and credit card balances can be risky when done on a public Wi-Fi network. Cyber crime and digital theft can easily happen to unencrypted information when using these unprotected networks. Sometimes making online purchases or checking banking information can’t be avoided while on the road. Using a VPN can protect you from digital theft.
A VPN, or virtual private network, will mask your identity on the internet, making it safer to surf the web on public wifi networks. Companies and large corporations have been using VPNs for years to allow their employees to securely connect to their servers remotely. As travelers, the same services and concept are now available. VPNs are useful for those who are connected to unsecure networks, like those at a cafe, hotel, museum or generic Wi-Fi hotspot. The VPN will encrypt your internet traffic, masking your identity on the web by using a tunneling technique. This will make it very difficult for others on public Wi-Fi networks to snoop or phish for your personal information and unencrypted data.
There are several free VPN services available (like CyberGhost), but I prefer Tunnel Bear. It integrates nicely with the iPhone iOS and its interface is very user friendly. It has several connection or tunnel points throughout the world so you are not limited to just one server. You can turn on the service either directly through the app or in Settings. Once the connection is secured, you are free to confidently surf the web. There is of course a “Pro” version for a fee but I find the free version sufficient for short trips.
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