Postcard and phone calls back home are no longer the preferred ways for travellers and holiday goers to communicate. The internet age has opened up whole new channels and internet cafes are now often readily available in the most unlikely of locations. It’s easy to take this for granted and assume that it is safe to make use of these while abroad, but there are a few security and safety measures that travellers should be aware of.
Photo by: Photosteve101
Important files such as email addresses, confidential details and bank details need to be carefully protected. It may be advisable to bring a hard copy of these (making sure to store them safely) rather than using a USB stick or similar. If you are using a USB, ensure that it is password protected and all such files are encrypted in a way that only you can access. Alternatively, use an online cloud service, again being careful to ensure it is password protected, or, if you have someone at home to ensure your home computer is up and running, you can access the files on your home computer. Providing you have your computers IP address to hand you can use remote access to see your files. Your computers handbook should explain how to do this simply; make sure you are familiar with the process before you leave for your trip.
Security may be an issue with some Internet cafes, with computers even infected with spy ware. Many users have found, for example, that their Paypal accounts have been compromised after a visit to an Internet cafe abroad, as they lack Internet protection. Take careful note of the cafe before you choose to use it and ensure you are happy with it’s professionalism and services. Ensure that all computers have adequate online anti virus software in place. Be sure to sign out fully from any secure sites and delete your web browsing history. These precautions also apply if you are using a shared computer in a hotel.
For those who can bring their own laptop, it’s often a more efficient alternative to using internet cafes that are unknown and often have slower connection speeds. However, there are a few safety tips that apply here also. As above, back up your files or use cloud services or remote access. Ensure your laptop has up to date online anti virus software. If you are using wifi, make sure you turn off roaming. Shared wifi can be a risk, so ensure you are using a safe and secure server which you trust. The best way to keep your data safe is to encrypt it, so use a good encryption software. Be aware however that some border controls may not allow encrypted data without a permit, so ensure you do your research on this first and obtain any required licence.