Travelling accounts to many new discoveries that adds up to our learning and gives us lasting experiences. However, it’s also quite the risk, and can pose a lot of security concerns not only on our physical selves, but on our digital identities as well.
Whether you’re on your much-awaited holiday, or travelling for that exquisite cultural and gastronomical experience in another country, your wallet and other valuables aren’t the only ones on the line of sight of thieves and other criminals. Your online identity can be compromised as well without your knowing that can lead to identity theft and cyber attacks.
Fortunately, there are several ways to keep our online identity safe and secure while hitting the long, winding road.
Avoid connecting to insecure public WiFi networks and using public computers
Accessing internet on-the-go thru connecting to free public WiFi networks at a cafe, airport, park, library, or shopping mall can put yourself and your information at risk. As much as possible, avoid connecting to these insecure networks especially without using security softwares.
In the same light, avoid using public WiFi and public computers to check your bank accounts. Instead, check your balance on your bank’s smartphone app or from a secure ATM.
Be wary of using Bluetooth
One vulnerable thing to do while travelling comes in connecting to Bluetooth. For instance, when renting a car. Activating your Bluetooth connection while in a rented car can lead to hackers seeing the networks you’ve previously connected to, and mimic them to fool your device into connecting to their Bluetooth devices. Once they are connected, they can put malware onto your device to steal your data and spy on you. Be cautious when you connect to Bluetooth. Always make sure that you erase all your history and turn it when not in use.
Use a disposable phone or buy a local sim card
A good way to protect your digital identity abroad (and avoid roaming charges, too) is to use a disposable phone or use a local SIM card on your phone. This forces anyone who could be potentially monitoring your information to go through extra efforts to link your number with your identity.
Set up remote security in all of your devices
While travelling we can be as carefree as a wandering bird, especially if we’re exploring a place for the first time. This being out-of-the-element attitude can make us an easy target. As you’ll never know what will happen when you travel, you need to be prepared just in case the worst-case scenario comes, and your devices got stolen. Setup remote security software in your devices, which can track, remotely lock and wipe information on your gadgets.
Use a VPN
Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) can keep you safe over insecure internet connections, such as public WiFi and hotspots. A VPN allows users to create a secure connection over a public network, giving a layered security, especially if it is an encrypted VPN service, which will encrypt your private information while connecting to the internet. Furthermore, with a VPN service you can surf the web anonymously without worry of anyone tracking your online identity and activities.
Guard your online bank accounts
One of the worst-case scenarios that can happen while travelling is getting your bank accounts to be compromised. Just to be sure and help protect your bank accounts (because credit theft is also one thing), it’s best to avoid bringing your valuable credit and debit cards. Instead, use a prepaid card to access your money while you’re on the road. This way, it’s like hitting two birds with one stone as you can keep your accounts safe while eliminating the problem of carrying around a pouch full of cash.
Use bank ATMs
Likewise, if you’d still insist on bringing your credit cards or ATM cards, make it a habit to find and use bank ATMs instead of the ones set up in the corners of convenience stores, hotels, or shopping malls, because of the fact that the latter can have card readers placed on them. Card skimming is also becoming a major problem, so it won’t hurt to practice precautions.
If in doubt, the best way is to use cash
Although cash are more vulnerable to being stolen (and definitely can’t be replaced unlike credit cards), if you’re in doubt whether to trust that local shop abroad or anywhere, be on the safe side and use cash for your purchases.
Just like how we’re keeping our houses locked and secure when we are away on our most-awaited vacation, our online identity matters as much. Preventing online identity theft through the precautionary measures mentioned above, plus constant vigilance, can surely help us protect our online identities.
So the next time you gear up for your next trip, be sure to not just prepare the things you need on the road. Consider protecting your online identity as well so to have a wholesome and rewarding travel getaway.
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