20 Public Wi-Fi Security Tips for TravelersSupport
How safe it is to connect your smartphone to public Wi-Fi or PC?
With the increasing use of smartphones, we all know the amount of personal data that can be stored in this very small device—business contacts, important notes, credit card information or even some sensitive personal data related to your location. The constant race for adding new smartphone features often leads to unanswered security questions.
Any connection to a Wi-Fi network or device you do not fully trust is a risk to compromise your data, if you do not adopt basic cyber security rules. Even if your smartphone is secured with a password, connecting it to public Wi-Fi hotspot or plugging it into a computer can give thieves access to all of your personal information within seconds. This can lead to identity theft or stealing personal data, which can then be sold or used to access your accounts on different services.
How travelers can secure their smartphones?
If you are a frequent traveler, following these simple rules will secure your smartphone even when you connect it to the untrusted networks or devices:
- Install a security solution – look for a well-rated app on App Store or Google Play that includes a firewall and malware protection.
- Keep your security settings set on default. In most cases, out of the box settings provide a quite high level of data security.
- Avoid connecting to unencrypted Wi-Fi networks–this may compromise your data within seconds without you even aware this happened.
- For better security, log out from (or even temporarily delete) apps such as mobile banking, social network apps, or any other apps containing your personal data of financial information.
- If you have two Wi-Fi networks protected with WEP and WPA, choose the second one as it is most secure option.
- Turn off ‘Auto Fill’ in your smartphone’s browser.
- Clear your device’s browser cookies before traveling.
- Consider using VPN for your smartphone. This provides a secure layer that can help you protect your data and everything you send or receive; your traffic would be much harder to decrypt even if it’s been intercepted.
- Don’t pay for Wi-Fi connection with your credit card if your browser displays that option when you are trying to connect to the network.
- Never install apps that are promoted during the initial connection to an untrusted Wi-Fi hotspot.
- Be careful with QR codes as they can contain links to the infected apps or viruses.
- Keep your passwords strong and change them once every six months. Be sure not to choose obvious passwords like “password”, “123456” or “letmein”—an important word or simple abbreviation from your favorite song will work much better.
- Do not left your smartphone charge in places, where somebody else could access your device.
- Avoid connecting your smartphone to public PCs–this could compromise your personal data or install malicious components, and show unauthorized ads on your device.
- Do not enter your personal data when asked to do so in order to connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot. Some countries may require this, but the most secure way to have Internet connection on your devices is to buy a local SIM card as most plans come with a pre-paid wireless data plan.
- Download apps only from official marketplaces or trusted app vendors—avoid installing anything from other sources.
- Keep your operating system updated – each new update contains important security patches and vulnerability fixes.
- Turn off automatic Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC connections – all of these technologies are great for your gadget’s connectivity but can open a door for malicious actors to gain complete access to your data.
- Do not root or jailbreak your device – 3rd party apps used for getting the access to core OS features can be infected with malicious code or contain intentional security vulnerabilities.
- Backup your smartphone. This eables you to restore your data in the event your smartphone is infected.
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What to Do If Your Smartphone is Hacked
The answer is, it depends on the situation. If you have done a recent backup (as advised in tip #20), your best option is a factory reset and changing passwords for any account you had access to from your mobile device.
In the event you haven’t performed a recent backup, and a factory reset is not an option because you have tons of media files on your device and losing them would be a catastrophe, then you will need to install antivirus software and try to clean it up. Understanding the importance of data security becomes a key factor in keeping you safe during your personal travels and business trips. Good luck and don’t get hacked!