8 Cyber Safety Tips for Travelers and Digital Nomads

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How can you secure your online data when traveling? Learn how to keep your digital devices safe while using overseas internet and Wi-Fi connections with these tips.


A digital nomad working from the back of his car Photo © Getty Images/Cavan Images

Identity theft and fraud are common crimes against travelers, but there are things you can do to keep your information and devices safe from prying eyes and hackers.

1. Keep your devices updated

Make sure all your devices have the latest software and security updates installed, and turn off any file sharing or location services. Back up your photos, and any other important items on your device to the cloud or a portable storage device as often as possible.

2. Using public Wi-Fi

Everyone does it, but limit your use of public Wi-Fi networks unless you have a VPN. The networks are rarely secure and criminals can see them as ripe pickings to get your important information. Avoid accessing online banking on public Wi-Fi.

3. VPN safety

Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) when jumping online, especially if you are using a public Wi-Fi network such as at airports and other public places. A VPN allows you to have a secure network connection over a public network. Your laptop or device communicates with a remote server using trusted keys to identify each other. Once identification has been established, your connection is secure and whatever is sent over that connection is encrypted.

Aside from creating a secure network, so you can check out important things like your bank account, it can help you to get around banned sites (e.g Facebook), in countries such as China, and access streaming services which may be geo-blocked. Handy if you need to fill in some time or while relaxing after a day of traveling. There are plenty of different VPN products available however not all will provide the same level of protection, so it's important to do your homework.

4. Turn off Wi-Fi

Turn off the Wi-Fi signal to your phone when not in use; the same applies with Bluetooth and mobile hotspots if you are tethering to your laptop or another electronic device.

5. Track your device

Make sure your device has a tracking app on it where possible. If in the event it is stolen, you may be able to see where it is. Another handy tool is a wiping application; if your device falls into the wrong hands, you can remotely wipe all the data.

6. How to secure your devices and data

Use strong passwords with a combination of numbers, letters and characters and/or biometric (fingerprint) protect your devices. Saves a thief gaining instant access to your information.

7. Burner Phones

Consider traveling with a 'burner' phone you don't care about rather than the expensive one you use every day. In places such as South America, smartphones, iPads and the like are lucrative prizes for local thieves.

If your burner phone is stolen, your information and other important things are safe on your main phone back home. 

8. Watch your cards

If you plan to use your bank card or travel card while traveling, never let it out of your sight and keep an eye on any transactions (on a secure network connection) while traveling and after you get home in case any unusual transactions pop up. Other options for payment include Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or Google Pay which rely on randomly generated tokens rather than using your card number.

For more handy travel money tips, check out this article.

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