How to protect yourself online when travelling

The internet is such a part of our daily lives that it’s hard to imagine being totally disconnected, unless that’s the whole point of your travel plans. We’re so used to transferring money online and sharing our photos. But if you’re using the Internet overseas, here are some essential tips to help protect your identity.

Before you go:

Check your account security details.  Some online services (like email accounts) will get worried if you start accessing them from a different country and may even suspend your account. Before you leave, log in and check your account details to ensure that any security information is accurate, should you need to prove that you really are you. This includes checking any secondary email addresses and security questions. Do you still have that old hotmail account and do you remember your first pet’s name?

Turn on the backup of your phone’s photos to the Cloud.  For most people, their phone is now their primary (or only) camera. So if it gets lost or stolen, you’ll be thankful that you have a backup of those irreplaceable holiday snaps in the Cloud. Apple, Google and Microsoft all offer this service. It may sound like a strange thing to do given the charges of using your internet plan overseas, but we have a tip below for that too!

Put a PIN number or password on your phone, tablet or laptop.  If you haven’t bothered doing this at home, you’ll want to do it before you travel. That’s extra protection for your personal information if your device is lost or stolen.

Consider setting up ‘2 Factor Authentication’.  This is a second way of verifying who you are, in addition to your password, using a unique, changing code.  Microsoft, Google, Twitter and Facebook all provide instructions on how to turn this on. If hackers did get your account details, they still couldn’t login without your current code. Use a mobile app as your code generator, so you don’t incur roaming SMS charges.

When you’re there:

Buy a local pre-paid SIM card with a good data plan and pop it in your phone. It’s cheaper than hotel wi-fi and safer than any free wireless ‘hotspots’ or internet cafes. And it will upload those photos to the Cloud without hitting you with high roaming data charges.

Use your phone to share your internet connection to your tablet or laptop. That way they’ll be using the pre-paid local internet plan too.

Don’t use Internet Banking on anything but your own computer. There’s too much opportunity for others to be recording your login name and password without you knowing, until you see your bank accounts are empty.

When you get home:

Change your passwords, especially if you’re still using your favourite password for everything. This will help block access from anyone that might have caught your login details.

Remember, step away from your technology occasionally and enjoy the rich sights and sounds of your journey!

Disclosure: This blog was written as my entry for the ProBlogger and Virgin Australia Top Travel Tips competition.  

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