Cybersecurity Risks While Traveling

Traveling is an awesome experience but, unfortunately, it can easily be ruined by unsecured networks, hackers, and more. But it doesn’t have to come to that!

In this article, we’ll tell you about some common cybersecurity risks you might face while traveling. But that’s not all! We’ll also give you actionable tips that help you stay safe.

So let’s get started!

Common Cybersecurity Risks You Might Face While Traveling

Here’s a quick list of the most common threats:

  • Unsecured networks – Public WiFi feels like a godsend when you travel. It’s right there when you need to transfer some money, check your map, or message the accommodation. But public WiFi is very dangerous to use – it doesn’t have any encryption! So, your traffic is exposed. If a skilled hacker is listening in on it, they can steal sensitive data like your credit card numbers and passwords.
  • Weak WiFi security – Many secured networks use WPA2 for encryption. It’s better than no encryption, but it’s not ideal because WPA2 is vulnerable to a cyber attack. And not even the new and improved WPA3 is 100% safe to use. All in all, a very good hacker that knows how to use packet sniffers can still crack the encryption to compromise your data.
  • Fake networks – Cybercriminals can actually set up fake networks that trick your devices into connecting to them (they imitate legitimate networks). For example, they could create a fake network that poses as your hotel’s WiFi network. If you connect to it and surf the web that way, the hackers running the network can see all your traffic.
  • Juice jacking – Public USB chargers are very helpful, but they’re dangerous too. USB ports don’t just let you charge devices – they also allow data transfers. Tampered charging ports could allow a hacker to take over your device while you’re charging your phone and steal important data off of it.

There are other cybersecurity risks we could mention, but these are the most common ones. If you know more threats that people need to look out for on vacation, please tell us about them in the comments.

How to Protect Your Data While Traveling

Here are a few tips you can use to stay safe online when you’re on vacation. We always use these pointers when traveling abroad and never had any issues.

Use a VPN

A VPN will keep you secure online when abroad. They’re online apps that secure your traffic by adding a layer of encryption to it. Basically, they make it completely unreadable – if a cybercriminal tries to spy on your traffic, they’ll only see gibberish. They won’t be able to see what sites you browse, your passwords, or credit card numbers.

Using a VPN is extremely simple – you just sign up for one, download and install a VPN app, and use it to connect to a VPN server. When you connect to a server, it encrypts all the traffic you share through it. And yes, that means you’re safe even on unsecured public WiFi or fake networks (though we’d still recommend using mobile data instead).

There are tons of VPNs on the market. We recommend using ExpressVPN or NordVPN. They’re very user-friendly, have fast speeds, and offer excellent security.

WARNING: Don’t use free VPNs! While they sound appealing, they’re not worth it. They have slow speeds, bandwidth caps (they limit how much data you use each month), are missing important security features, have bad customer support, log and sell user data, and expose users to ads and malware.

More Good Reasons to Use a VPN on Vacation

  • VPNs hide your IP address, which means websites can’t see what country you’re from. That stops them from geo-blocking your access to their content. So you can watch your favorite titles on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+ anywhere you travel.
  • By hiding your IP, VPNs also keep you safe from cyberstalkers and ad tracking. They won’t be able to monitor your online movements anymore.
  • VPNs have ad blockers that can get rid of annoying ads (which only slow down your web browser). Besides that, the ad blockers can also block malicious sites. So VPNs can keep you safe from phishing.
  • By encrypting your traffic, VPNs also prevent bandwidth throttling. ISPs can’t see your online traffic, so they can’t selectively slow down your speeds for specific online activities (like streaming and gaming).
  • VPNs hide your torrenting traffic, so you won’t get kicked off of hotel WiFi for downloading torrents.
  • By hiding your geo-location, VPNs also help you save money.  You can get surprise discounts by connecting to VPN servers in low-income countries when you purchase airplane tickets, pay for care rentals, or make online bookings.

Use Antivirus Programs

Hackers usually rely on malware to compromise your data, so you need a line of defense against it – and that’s where antivirus programs come into play!

We said that VPN ad blockers can block malware-infected sites. But that doesn’t mean they can protect your device against malware infections. If you download a malicious file, a VPN can’t help you. Only antivirus software can.

So make sure you download and install good antivirus protection on all your devices. Program them to run a scan every day, and be sure to keep the software up-to-date all the time. If you don’t, it won’t be able to protect you against new strains of malware.

Take a Portable Charger with You

A portable charger is the best protection against juice jacking. You don’t need to use public USB chargers that can be compromised anymore because you have your own portable charger.

Just make sure you fully charge it before you leave on vacation. And if you know you use your devices 24/7, make sure you take more portable chargers with you.

How Do You Avoid Cybersecurity Risks While Traveling?

What methods do you use to stay safe online on vacation? Please tell us about them in the comments. And if you use VPNs too, please tell us which ones (and if they’re good as well).