Tips for using Wi-Fi Safely while Traveling3 min read
A HealthyTravelBlog reader recently wrote us to follow up on our post Going Mobile: Global Travelers and Communication Technology. It turns out he represents Symantec’s Norton Internet Security products. Although there are some blatant plugs for Symantec, his (and Symantec’s) advice is important, so we decided to post it in full:
My name is Gerritt Hoekman and I work for Edelman, a PR firm. I’ve been researching travel-focused Web sites that offer their readers practical tips on travelling and saw your post on global travelers and communication technology.
I’m sure you’re as aware as anyone that laptops and smartphones are now as much travel necessities as sunscreen and books have been in the past. To get online while travelling, people are increasingly taking advantage of Wi-Fi networks – at airports, hotels, even while in the air, as more and more planes offer passengers Wi-Fi connections in-flight.
Someone’s perfect vacation could be ruined in an instant by cyber-criminals looking to rob them of their personal information. Imagine stepping off the plane, ready to start your vacation, only to realize that between “here” and “there” your bank account has been wiped out and your credit card information stolen. While offering convenience and flexibility, these networks are also easy entry points for crooks looking to steal your money, account information and identity.
With summer in full swing and travel plans on the horizon for many of us, one of my clients, Norton from Symantec – a world leader in online security – has put together a list of five easy tips to help people keep safe while using wireless (Wi-Fi) connections while traveling.
1. Pay attention to your surroundings – Remember, if you can read his magazine, the guy sitting next to you on the plane can also read your laptop screen! Just because you’re on vacation, doesn’t mean you’re not still in public
2. Beware of “Evil Twins” – Some Wi-Fi networks can appear to be legitimate, but are NOT. Criminals can create “dummy” networks or Web sites that contain the name of the airline, hotel or airport, but actually will direct your information to their own computer. If you always use the access keys provided by the airline, hotel, or airport, you’ll be protected
3. Always assume your Wi-Fi connections are being eavesdropped on – Never enter sensitive data (bank account information, social security numbers, etc.) when browsing the Web via a Wi-Fi network
4. Set any Bluetooth devices to “hidden”, not “discoverable” – If you do not use the Bluetooth function, turn it off altogether
5. Keep your security software current and active – Remember, mobile PCs are vulnerable to the same viruses, Trojans, and worms as your home computer. Norton Internet Security 2009, is an award-winning product that provides exceptional protection for wireless networks
Thanks, Gerritt. We appreciate your insight. I know from personal experience that sometimes the desire to get online during a trip can make even the most security-conscious among us drop his or her guard. I also know that airports, train stations, highway rest stops and hotel lobbies are prime areas for both cyber-criminals and the old fashioned kind to hang out. Don’t let your need to get connected let you connect to the dark side. When in doubt, buy a newspaper, a nice cup of coffee and just relax. Hopefully, you are on vacation.