June 2013: It’s easy to stay connected while we travel, hopping from WiFi pond to WiFi pond, using our tech tools all the while. But it’s also easy to forget being mobile makes you more vulnerable!
To make sure you come back with the same protected data you left with, remember to do these three things when you’re on the road:
1. Wear your body armor. Update your antivirus software and turn on your personal firewall — you want to keep malware out and keep other devices from connecting to your computer. For antivirus, check out software packages from Kaspersky, McAfee, Norton, Bitdefender and Comodo. And for firewall, check your operating system settings. If you’re using a work computer, usually the firewall activates immediately when you disconnect from the network – but check with IT to make sure.
2.Don’t connect to truly free WiFi. Computers with hotspots masquerading as WiFi connections abound, especially in airports, tourist attractions and other popular places. If your device automatically searches for and connects to available WiFi, turn off that setting! At your hotel, ask the name of the WiFi network so you don’t mistakenly login to a bogus one that someone set up to trick unsuspecting guests.
3. Treat hotel and airplane WiFi like you would any other “public” WiFi – even if you’re paying for it! These WiFi connections are vulnerable to monitoring and intrusions, just like the one at your local Starbucks. So use all of the usual safeguards, even when you feel cozy lounging in your pj’s and waiting for room service: turn off file sharing, avoid visiting sites that require you to enter your password and don’t do your banking — or choose your banking app via your cellular provider.
Cellular networks are much safer than WiFi networks, so if you travel a lot, it’s a great idea to invest in a 3G/4G WiFi service that you can take with you. Check out personal hotspots from AT&T or Verizon so you can connect your laptop, tablet and phone to the Internet over a secure cellular network.