We have heard it numerous times. “Don’t connect to public WiFi, or “don’t buy anything with your credit card if you are connected to a public network.” Nonetheless, there are many occasions when the need to connect to public WiFi arises. Traveling is one of those instances.
So, traveling seniors, don’t forget to protect your data and devices. Keep reading to find out how you can browse the internet securely and protect your information when traveling.
The following is a sponsored post. However, all opinions and research done for this post are my own, and my husband’s who has a Master of Science in Computer Engineering.
As we all know, cybersecurity is a big topic nowadays. Every time we connect to a public network, we risk exposing our interactions (including transactions) on the web and possibly to the world.
In this day and age, we own many smart devices. Sometimes, these gadgets are almost an extension of us. Maybe because of personal or business reasons. Not even while traveling, we cannot bear the thought of giving our laptop, or tablet up (not judging I am the same way).
For a while, experts and ‘techies’ of the world have used Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to protect their data while they travel. Now, when not at home, you don’t have to be a computer geek to protect your computer easily.
But why is it that my information is at risk when I travel?
When you connect to the internet, your requests could go through several hops (portions of the path between the source and the endpoint). This process happens until the requests get to the final destination on the receiving end.
Think about that for a second, if any of those hops are compromised, your information could be at risk.
The risk increases when you have access points that are directly open to the public, like hotspots in airports, hotel lobbies, or a coffee house. These are particularly attractive for malicious users (or hackers) because it gives them a single low-secure target to execute exploits.
The result of this exploit is that all the data of users connected to those public access points can be made visible.
So how does a VPN works to protect my information when I travel?
Virtual Private Networks create an encrypted tunnel between your device and a secure endpoint. This ‘tunnel’ will encapsulate all your information, giving you an extra layer of security, and the confidence of accessing sensitive data, such as your bank account, anywhere in the world.
There are solutions out there, like Cocoon, that provides two free versions (one for when traveling to Asia & one that can be used in the rest of the world), and a paid version that includes an Anti-Virus.
Cocoon, as the name suggests, does to your computer what you imagine just now. It isolates your laptop to keep it away from malware and encrypts sensible information. Additionally, depending on your internet speed, you can sign up, download, and start using its browser in less than five minutes.
This protection can help you avoid big headaches, not only while traveling but when you return home too. It is never fun to deal with a stolen identity or with credit card fraud.
What are some applications I should access through a VPN?
Any application that you use to exchange sensitive information should be accessed through VPNs while you travel. Examples are email, bank websites, credit card websites, message exchanging platforms, hotel rewards websites (yes, people are stealing loyalty points!), etc.
What other steps should I take to protect my information when I travel?
You should always make sure to access only those sites that have been configured for secure browsing or “https.”
From your browser, you will see that “https” enabled sites are marked with a lock at the beginning of the search bar.
Be wary of websites that prompt security alerts on your web browser, such as an expired security certificate.
If you are traveling, and want to connect to a Wi-Fi network, make sure the connection is protected by at least a password. However, you should still use a VPN, since most of these passwords are shared amongst many other travelers (in hotels for example).
My recommendation is, connect to a VPN, kick your legs back and have a safe trip while protecting your data.