Data Security When Traveling Overseas

When you are about to travel overseas, you would already have a lot of things to do, right from planning for your stay, packing your stuff and taking the flight itself, may it be for business purposes or for a vacation. But the most important of all considerations should be the security of your data when you travel, especially those data you have stored on your devices and those that you access over public internet connections. Threats to your data security extends to the theft or loss of your device, theft of data via Wi-Fi networks, installing spyware on computers when using public networks like in airports, hotels, coffee shops, etc., and custom or border officials, especially in those countries that have high rates of corruption.

Business executives, academics, government workers, and many other travelers are being alerted on a regular basis about the various data security threats they will be facing when traveling overseas. A series of incidents of overseas travelers facing pop-ups of fake software updates when using internet connections in hotels overseas have been widely reported over the years. When those travelers clicked on the Update button from the pop-up, thinking that it really is an update, malicious software was automatically installed on their devices. Experts suggest that Wi-Fi network connections in public places, especially in hotels, are very much risky, as they will usually be set up with no good security settings. From the perspective of data security, traveling is actually risky, and you are more prone to have your personal, private, or corporate information or data compromised.

The Major Risk

The major risk associated with data security when traveling overseas is that, you would often try to find free Wi-Fi networks to connect to, whenever you are on the road, not just in the hotels you stay, but also at business facilities, airports, cafés, conference centers, etc. The security settings in such network connections usually differ from one place to another; but most of the networks remain open and unprotected, and most of you would usually be unaware of the fact that you are exposing yourself to data loss by using such networks, of course unintentionally. When it comes to public Wi-Fi connections, the fact is that, any person can connect to the network, which typically means that anyone can monitor the online traffic happening on the network, and there are ample devices that they can use to capture other users’ data.

In addition to this, it has also been found that may hackers even set up mock Wi-Fi networks in public places, which also get displayed on the top of the available Wi-Fi connections list that appears on your device. And obviously, you will click on to connect to a specific Wi-Fi network when you know it’s free, opening yourself to great exposure. Once the users’ online traffic gets compromised, hackers using the same Wi-Fi network can easily attain control of any device possessed by a user, and can capture all the data stored on the device.

Other Data Security Risks

Though it has been said that people expose themselves by logging on to public Wi-Fi network connections, experts say that the uncertainty associated with data loss starts even before that. There is something called over-the-shoulder issue. When you are preoccupied in your work on your device when in public places like departure lounge, café, hotels, or also while on travel, you usually would not pay attention to prying eyes around you. And most of you would probably not have a private screen on your laptop or other devices, which makes it easier for others to look over your shoulder to monitor your activities.

One other risk involved with data security is losing your device, especially when you pass through security checkpoints. Most travelers, when placing their devices for security check, place them in the tray for scanning and then forget to collect them back. This is why certain business organizations, specifically those operating in sensitive fields like defense, pharmaceuticals, finance, etc. usually provide their employees with blank laptops when they travel to a different region on business.

Most techniques used by hackers to capture your data would be quite hard for you to detect, especially if you are a non-IT professional. The first and best defense you should have to prevent data loss is common sense. Yes, as surprising as that fact is, most of us happen to be lethargic when it comes to updating the security of our devices. Before you travel, always make sure that all the security updates on your devices are complete. And always have an eye on your things, no matter where you are. In addition to these, following are some practical measures you can follow to enable data security.

Practical Measures for Data Security

Whenever you travel to a different place, there is a lot of danger of your data and equipment getting lost, stolen, monitored or captured. While it is important that you remain aware of the various data security threats surrounding you and about what should be done in case of a problem, it is equally important that you follow certain strict procedures when it comes to the transportation, access, and storage of your valuable data, and these measures should be supported by relevant technologies.

  • Encryption: Firstly, the best possible solution to avoid data security threats would be to have no, or very less, sensitive data stored on your device. However, if you need to carry the data physically, say for giving a presentation, you should make sure that it is secured with proper encryption methods. If you are taking your laptop with you, you can use disk encryption method to have all your electronic files protected. Use the help of a technology expert, in your office if you are going on a business trip, to install disk encryption software on all the devices you will be carrying. If your device’s hard drive is encrypted totally, then no hacker will be able to monitor or capture your data.
  • Low-tech solutions: Hackers can use tools to easily turn on the microphone or camera on your device. To prevent such things from happening, you can try placing stickers on those parts. This happens to be the low-tech solution for such risky issues. And as mentioned earlier, you can use a privacy screen to prevent over-your-shoulder snooping. Though these methods may not be foolproof, they certainly can help you bring down the risk of cyber theft.
  • Install a VPN: In order to protect the data that moves to and from your laptop or any other device while traveling, you should install a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN connection will protect all your data when you transfer them from your device to a different one by using the encryption technique. It uses various encryption protocols like Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP), Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP), Internet Protocol Security (IPSec) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to provide users with the best possible protection of their data.

In addition to providing security, a VPN connection will also help you unblock various restrictions you would otherwise face when traveling to countries that have strict internet censorship practices in place. Online restrictions, including geographic restrictions, internet censorships, etc. can be easily surpassed with the help of a VPN connection. Also, by using a VPN, you can access your local bank account online, without having to worry about having your financial details compromised or being restricted access by your bank because you are overseas. All of these benefits together make a VPN service the go-to option for travelers, both local and international, for attaining complete data security.

Best VPN Services to Obtain Data Security

Following is a list of the top five VPN service providers that can help protect your data when you travel overseas:

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