Digital Security while Traveling
How to securely communicate, share files, and browse the web should be on everyone’s mind these days, especially when traveling to different locations around the world and connecting to various public wifi hotspots.
I have to admit that when I first started using a VPN, it was for two reasons…. connecting to my work files on my employer’s server and to spoof my location so I could listen to Spotify (when it was only available in select northern European countries). I never really thought about it as a security tool until my brother got hacked twice, on two separate occasions, when connecting to a hotel wifi in Italy. This was many years ago, and I’m still surprised people are not taking precautions when connecting to public wifi. If you don’t know what a VPN is, and how it secures your internet usage, please read this.
Although it’s impossible to fully trust a VPN service, it’s way better than not using it at all, and gives you enough protection to at least check your email and bank accounts safely without risking getting hacked by someone snooping the wifi you are connecting to. There are many VPN providers to choose from and they all have different prices and packages. I highly recommend you avoid “free” VPN services. You know what they say about free….they make money on something else that might not be in your best interest or you might not get very good performance. If you are reluctant to spend money, I would at least go with one of the cheaper alternatives. My personal favorite is ProtonVPN, but ExpressVPN, TunnelBear, and NordVPN are other popular alternatives.
When traveling, having and using a VPN service is the key to a secure connection. However, there are other services that you may also consider to make your digital life more secure and private. For example, an email service like ProtonMail or Tutanota that have no access whatsoever to your email (as opposed to Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo). You may also want to have a highly secure and private cloud storage option. I was a heavy Dropbox user in the past and it worked great. However, that changed when one of their support reps was able to casually login to my account and see my files. Nowadays, I store and share files through Tresorit. Other cloud storage options you may want to look at is SpiderOak and sync.com.
When do you travel, just make sure to store important files offline. You can do that in most smartphone cloud apps. For example, as a Tresorit user, when I travel I select the files needed for that trip and then choose to “Add to Offline”. That way, should my phone’s internet connection drop, I can still access those files.