A timely reminder as many of you are about to embark on an overseas journey.
Travelling to another country can be exciting, but once you touch down, you might unknowingly be leaking personal information and digital behaviour patterns to its government and internet service providers. That’s no fun now, is it?
Below are our recommendations on how to protect digital privacy when you are travelling for leisure or work.
Tips on how to protect your digital privacy in a foreign country – New Zealand has recently made it compulsory for all travellers to disclose the password to their digital devices on demand at the airport. While that is a mandatory disclosure that is verging on a violation of rights, there are ways that you can prevent your devices and online profiles from selling you out silently.
– Lay low on social media
Check if your geo-tracker on Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram is disabled to avoid exposing your physical location. With that in mind, it goes without saying that posting a status of where you are is never a good idea.
To further protect your sensitive information, make sure all your social media profiles are set to private so only the people you trust can access the content you share. While it might be exciting to share your joy and experiences on social media with the world, don’t forget that there could be unwelcomed strangers lurking on your profile.
– Assume you are unsafe
You’ve just landed in a new country, you feel refreshed and cannot wait to venture out into the unknown. The novelty might be exciting, but remember that you know close to nothing about the place. Criminals, hackers or even government organizations might be preying on your mindlessness. Protect your privacy, only communicate with friends, enter passwords or log into your accounts through sites or apps that are encrypted. If you’re unsure whether the platforms you engage with are secure, download a VPN app to encrypt all of your online traffic. It blankets all of the communication to and from your devices.
– Study the political climate of the country
It is very important to know the political climate in your destination. Going against the rules by making controversial comments regarding their government, religions, or certain social and political activities can send you on a one-way train to the authorities. Spend an hour or two to read up on articles written about your destination, especially on the subject of censorship and freedom of expression before you go.
– Avoid public networks
When some people land at the airport, the first thing they check is whether there is Wi-Fi connection. Many airports, restaurants and train stations have unsecured Wi-Fi networks which make you vulnerable to cyber attacks and information theft. Things to avoid doing when using unsecured networks are online banking, entering passwords, and sharings sensitive photos and information. If you really have to do it, again, use a VPN to mask your activities.
– If you are in a risky job, understand your position
Kudos to you if you are travelling to cover stories as a journalist or reporter. The sensitive nature of your job in media makes you a likely target of government eavesdropping. If you are visiting a heavily censored country, take the necessary precautions to stay under the radar, and be very careful about who you talk to about your activities.
Wrapping it up
To enjoy your stay to the fullest, always be wary of hackers and phishers who might have something to gain from prying into your data. Understand the risks you might be exposed to by carrying out a thorough digital diligence on how much data the country collects from its airport Wi-Fi and local internet services providers. Learn about the different ways to protect your digital privacy and security while away from home to travel with peace of mind.
Secure WIFI links are the thing. AVOID online banking unless you are on one, or use a private VPN on your device!!