In this era, we can no longer travel without the Internet to keep in touch with family at home, for example, and it also great for booking accommodation or a domestic flight. The Internet is becoming more and more available in most countries. Unfortunately, it is not always reliable, fast and safe. As a traveller, there is little you can do about the first two things. However, you can make sure that cyber criminals have less chance of hacking into your privacy-sensitive data.
Internet on public computers (Internet café, hotel, etc.)
- Preferably avoid doing any banking on such a computer. You don’t know what has been pre-installed on dangerous software that can read your PIN number.
- Do not store passwords on that computer. The computer always asks if you want to save your passwords. Never do this, always click “no”.
- Afterwards, delete the history, cookies and temporary Internet files on the computer you worked on. This way, the following user cannot find out what you have done.
Using public Wi-Fi networks in hotels, airports or restaurants
Although you often have to log in with a username and password, these types of public networks are not secure. In order to avoid risks, you should not do privacy-sensitive business here, such as making payments. For example, cyber criminals may have created a fake login page that looks just like the official page of the hotel. But they immediately register all your passwords and can access your bank account.
Use your own data bundle (even though it is very expensive). You may want to buy a sim-card in the country. A much better solution is to create a so-called VPN connection. This allows you to create an encrypted (secure) connection via your mobile, tablet or laptop to a server somewhere in the world belonging to the party offering the VPN service. That sounds very complicated, but in practice it is super simple. And it’s completely safe. So, you can do all your banking on the move without running the risk of being hacked.
We always worked with the Tunnelbear app. It has worked very well for us and is extremely easy to use. You can choose from a free service with a maximum of 500 MB per month (to be increased if you invite a friend to use Tunnelbear or to tweet about Tunnelbear, up to 1.5 GB per month). With a paid subscription you can even connect 5 devices and there is no data limitation. Besides Tunnelbear, there are a number of good free VPN services. More information can be found in the best free VPN services overview.
With a VPN connection, you are guaranteed to be able to use the Internet safely and do your banking by the side of your hotel pool. And there is another advantage: with a VPN connection, no-one can see what IP address you are using. So, you won’t get cookies and ads from all hotels or holiday trips if you’ve been on a “Canada tour”. Finally, many VPN providers allow you to choose the country you want to make an encrypted Internet connection with. If you then choose a server in for instance the UK, you can simply receive British TV channels on your tablet or mobile phone. Although perhaps you don’t need that at all when so far away…