Last time we talked about how to physically protect your tech gear while traveling. In part two we take a closer look at virtual security overseas.
While a cyber café is never my first choice, and definitely not the kind of place I’d want to broadcast all my personal information, the security offered by personal VPNs and other apps make accessing your accounts while overseas way less scary. Internet cafés, while still very much prevalent, are not really necessary anymore –most restaurants, cafes and hotels have internet these days – hell, even that redheaded vixen Wendy’s has WiFi!
Keep in mind that though public Wi-Fi is a huge step up from a cyber café and you may feel super secure being in your hotel or at a familiar feeling Starbucks, there are still a lot of threats to your personal information.
So how do we gear up for an online session overseas?
Data protection lockdown:
- VPN: A VPN creates a secure tunnel to access your personal accounts without others snooping. I use these any time I’m not on my home or a trusted network (for a more in depth look, LifeHacker explains VPNs). My personal favorite is Private tunnel. I like Private Tunnel because they’re part of OpenVPN, which, according to some who hide their online activity for a living, is what many other VPN’s base their code off of anyway, so why not go straight to the source. Looking for other options? Reviews.com has done all the legwork for you by reviewing VPN options and categorizing their results based on your particular need.
- File encryption: Think of it as a virtual safe for your files. Veracrypt and Ciphershed (stable version not yet released as of 24 July, 2015) are two alternatives which have forked off of TrueCrypt’s code. Watch my tutorial on file encryption for instructions on how to install and encrypt a folder.
- Password manager: KeePass:(free) Scientific studies have shown that people actually use 11% of their brains now. The extra 1% is used to remember passwords. Now you can go back to 10% since you only have to remember one. For more options, read Reviews.Com breakdown of the best password vaults out there.
- Encrypted email: Hushmail requires the receiver to have a hushmail account or the encryption code to decrypt the message. Double bonus: Company is located in Canada… away from any three letter agencies who might strong-arm it to giving up its data.
- Encrypted email alternative: Sneakynote Send info via hyperlink that will Mission Impossible itself into oblivion after being read, never to be read by anyone else. Good for: Sending passwords, combinations, stalking, etc.
- Portable Apps: If you’re strictly pen/paper while on the road and prefer to hop on a computer as a guest to access email, bank accounts, buy tix etc, I would suggest adding a simple flash drive loaded up with Portable Apps to your pack-out.
- Shady folks can spoof your wireless networks from a cafe. How? Your device remembers every network you’ve ever been on. Make yourself a harder target and jump in your settings, then forget all the networks you’ve connected to. Go to “Manage wireless networks”, or WLAN/WiFi on your phone and delete/forget any connections you’re not using.
- If you think someone is accessing your information, make like Treadstone and “Shut it down”. Turn off your wifi and run a virus scan.
If you’ve properly game planned your Xs and Os, you’ll have a better chance of keeping your 1s and 0s private. Even if you’re not tech savvy, the app developers listed above make it easy to install and run their progrums. Plus, investing a little time into understanding how to protect your information will make you more aware of how vulnerable you used to be.
Have a favorite security app you never travel without?