How Travellers Can Protect Themselves Against Cyberattacks

There is a lot to be conscious of when travelling around the world. Whether you identify as a cautious traveller or someone who is a little more spontaneous, most can agree that staying vigilant when travelling is key. 

Now this includes interacting on our laptops, computers, devices and any other way we may access the web when seeing the world. Just as we safeguard ourselves with travel insurance and extra precautions, travellers must also protect themselves against cyberattacks. 

Today we are going to look at how travellers can do just that and what simple tips and tricks can make a huge difference when it comes to ensuring our cybersafety when heading abroad.

What is a VPN, and do I need it when travelling?

VPNs have become a standard service for most travellers, but what is a VPN? A VPN essentially allows users to maintain an encrypted network connection using a dedicated VPN server to mask their IP address. In doing so, VPN users can grant themselves access to services or web pages online that may have geographically locked content. In essence, VPNs can be very useful when working abroad, staying connected to friends and family when travelling, and even consuming media entertainment on platforms like Netflix. 

Using a reliable and trusted VPN will safeguard you against hackers and any other third parties who may be trying to spy on your network connection when you’re accessing the internet overseas.

Set up two-step verification on all of your devices

If you have not done this already, you should absolutely set up two-step verification on all of your personal devices. This ensures that if any of your items go missing in the chaos of travel, you will still know if someone is trying to access your accounts. Unfortunately, we cannot always control theft, but we can control what the thief has access to with two-step verification.

Let’s say your laptop goes missing in a hostel. By setting up two-step verification, your mobile phone will then get a notification if someone is trying to log in to an account. You can use this notification to then confirm that this action has not been taken by you. This will immediately shut down any login opportunities for that unknown user. You may even choose to take this a step further and change passwords, or even communicate to all relevant persons that an item has been lost or stolen and should thus, be kept encrypted to reduce the risks of physical theft turning into identity theft

Do not let your devices remember your payment details

Our devices are always asking if they can remember the details of a credit card or other online payment service. This is because it can be incredibly convenient for the user, albeit quite unsafe if the device is in someone else’s hands. 

You should also get in the habit of clearing your browser and logins so that pre-filled logins and passwords are not appearing on every device. Let’s make it as difficult as possible for anyone looking to find those details. You might not think Facebook logins are going to be very relevant to a hacker or scammer, but with Facebook being a login option for so many platforms – you may very well be in hot water if your Facebook login info becomes known to any malicious third parties. If in doubt, clear that login and browser history as often as possible and enter manually while travelling.

Less is more

It’s tempting to want to maintain the same posting frequency and online presence you have at home when travelling, but doing so can leave you vulnerable to security breaches. Try a minimalist approach to technology when travelling so that you do not have to keep track of lots of devices, logins, and security measures. You might also find that it is a good idea to take a spare phone or spare laptop when travelling that is not packed with lots of sensitive data, just to ensure that physically losing this device won’t be accompanied by more adverse repercussions such as experiencing digital fraud or other forms of cybercrime. 

The same goes for the activities you conduct online. If you can help it, try and save the online shopping, online payments, and other tasks of that nature until you have finished your travelling. This is understandably not an option for everyone, but if you can try and minimise providing your devices with sensitive personal information when travelling, you might greatly reduce your risks of falling victim to cyberattacks.

Install anti-malware software

Installing anti-malware software can be a great line of defence against cyber attacks. There is a great variance in the types of coverage and security you can get and some anti-malware software can be quite expensive. Choose an option that best meets your needs and budget and implement the strategies mentioned above. 

It’s also important to note that anti-malware software is always changing and advancing to keep up with the rapid evolution of digital threats themselves. Keeping your anti-malware software updated and current might be that little bit of extra defence you need to keep hackers and threats firmly at bay. 

When you have a robust security plan in place, you’ll be infinitely more likely to enjoy and explore the incredible destinations you are travelling to. Do not be left thinking ‘if only’ and enhance your security systems now so that your travels go according to plan, without having to fret too much about the ever-present threat of cyberattacks.