Or, at least it would feel that way if you didn’t have to constantly worry about online security threats.
“Wait, which threats?”
Well, here’s all you need to know about them. Don’t worry – I’ll also tell you how to protect yourself.
The Online Dangers of Traveling Nobody Talks About
Here’s a quick overview of the risks you expose yourself to whenever you browse the web on vacation:
1. Unsecured Public WiFi
Unsecured WiFi is any network that doesn’t require a password to use it. Basically, it doesn’t use any encryption.
Yeah, definitely – especially when you need to check your map, booking, or bank account on the go.
Hackers can actually monitor everything you do on unsecured networks – especially if you use HTTP websites.
So not only can they find out what your itinerary is, or where your accommodation is, but they can also steal your:
- Login credentials
- Bank account details
- Credit card numbers
Unfortunately, there’s not any recent research showcasing how many public WiFi networks don’t use encryption, but I did find this report from 2016. According to it, around 31.99% of public hotspots don’t use encryption.
That might not sound so bad, but keep in mind the rest of the networks only use WPA2. Right now, that’s not a very secure way to protect a network.
WPA3 should allegedly fix them, but it’s gonna take a while until you’ll see large-scale deployment. And it’s not like you can postpone your trips until WPA3 is the standard.
Despite these pitfalls, it’s still recommended that you use the best security protocols out there, but even “secured” networks won’t keep your data completely safe.
2. Compromised Hotel WiFi
Unfortunately, hotels don’t focus on network security enough. They mostly care about offering you a convenient and comfortable online experience, not a secure one.
Hackers breaching WiFi networks at hotels is nothing new. Some of them even go as far as using malware and exploits to get access to hotel networks so that they can steal guests’ info – like passwords and credit card details.
Sometimes, cybercriminals might even set up fake WiFi hotspots that imitate legit hotel WiFi networks. If you accidentally connect to one, you’re pretty much handing over all your data to hackers.
3. Foreign ISP Surveillance
ISPs know everything you do online – what websites you visit, how much time you spend on web pages, what you type on HTTP websites and unencrypted messaging apps, what files you download and the list truly goes on.
Sadly, they don’t exactly keep all that info to themselves.
They often share it with government agencies like the NSA. The same thing will happen if you vacation in China – national ISPs will hand over your data to the authorities.
And if you happen to visit the US, some ISP might actually sell your browsing history to advertisers.
Actually, let’s be real – it’s not like ISPs in other countries don’t do the same thing. It’s a nice profit for them, and they likely keep it a secret. The authorities won’t care as long as they get their hush money.
So, Here’s How to Stay Safe Online While Traveling
4. Use a VPN
VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) are online services that hide your IP address, and encrypt your web traffic too.
Traffic encryption is exactly what you need when traveling. Basically, it means all your data is turned into an unreadable format.
If anyone tries to monitor it, they’ll just see gibberish.
At most, they’ll assume you’re browsing an HTTPS website. They won’t know which one, of course.
So, hackers, ISPs, and government agencies won’t have any idea what you’re doing on the web.
In fact, you’ll even be able to safely use unsecured public WiFi with a VPN. Not even a fake network run by hackers will pose a serious threat to your traffic.
And since the VPN hides your IP address, advertisers won’t manage to use it to spam you with annoying ads anymore. Also, hackers won’t be able to learn personal details about you, such as what city you are currently in and what your ZIP code is.
Now, not just any VPN will do. You need to do proper research to get a service that actually protects your data and privacy, and doesn’t endanger them through leaks and poor configurations.
Don’t worry – you won’t need to spend hours reading about VPNs. Here’s a list of the best Virtual Private Network services on the market right now.