In Travel on Friday 1st Feb, 2019

Avoiding hackers: How to stay safe when using public Wi-Fi overseas

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Having internet access has become a necessity when travelling. Whether you need to keep your family and friends updated on your adventures or find your way back to your hotel after getting lost in a foreign city, access to the internet just makes everything a bit easier.

While there are a number of options for accessing the internet in a foreign country such as purchasing an international SIM card for your phone or turning on your data roaming, the cheapest and easiest way is to connect to public Wi-Fi connections.

Some Wi-Fi networks are open for the public to use and don’t require a password. You might notice that almost every hotel, shopping centre and café these days will have free Wi-Fi for their guests or customers to connect to. It’s convenient, cheap and simple to use. Unfortunately, the massive downside to these open connections is the threat of being hacked. 

Due to the lack of security, hackers can easily see what you’re browsing online including sensitive information like accounts or banking details.

To make sure you keep your personal data safe, it’s important to be wary with open network connections and follow a few precautionary steps.

Firstly, make sure the Wi-Fi you’re connecting to is trustworthy by asking around. Ask at the front desk of your hotel or at the counter of the café to double check you’re connecting to the right network and not a fake one created by hackers.

Before you connect to any networks, turn off your Bluetooth and file sharing options on your phone or computer. This means other ill-intentioned users on that same network won’t be able to access any of your private information. When you’re not using the internet, turn your Wi-Fi off as well to save battery and to avoid any unwanted automatic connections.

New networks might ask for an email address or name when signing in for the first time. It’s important to give as little information as possible. If you can, try using an alternative email address so there is no connection to your main inbox. Also avoid entering in any specific addresses or phone numbers.

Every time you head to a website make sure the URL begins with https:// rather than http://. The ‘s’ ensures the website is secured so any information you send or view on that website will be protected and encrypted.

One of the most important parts of using public Wi-Fi is ensuring you protect yourself. That means avoid logging into online banking accounts, email inboxes or anywhere with sensitive information. A basic rule to go by is to simply avoid anything you wouldn’t want a stranger looking at.

The best thing to do is to look for semi-open networks, which are generally password protected but still freely available to the public. Most hotels will generally have these connections to protect their guests information.

Rather than being afraid of using the internet in a foreign country, simply be cautious and it might just save your holiday!

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