Travel tips: Here’s how to prevent hackers from cutting your holiday short

Photo: Pixabay
Photo: Pixabay

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If you’re Singaporean, you’ve probably contributed to the #wanderlust hashtag on Instagram at least once (yeah, we’re fluent in millennial). Singaporeans just can’t seem to stay on the island, hitting an all-time high of eight million outbound departures in 2018. They say travel makes you smarter, which should make us some of the most intelligent beings but unfortunately that might not be the case when it comes to online safety.

Having one of the highest average internet connection speeds in the world means that online safety should be one of our top concerns, but Singaporeans are generally not fussed about cybersafety until we’ve been personally compromised. It’s like leaving the key to your home under the doormat (we hope you don’t actually do that).

Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, one thing’s for sure — it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Don’t forget, hackers in foreign countries have a homeground advantage to target unsuspecting tourists like you and I, but you can keep yourself safe with these travel tips.

No one needs to know your live location (and frankly, no one cares)

Those location tags on Instagram and Snapchat are definitely convenient for reminding friends back home you’re having a better time than them, but is it worth leaving yourself vulnerable to potential thieves and stalkers? Maybe think of yourself as a celebrity. These ‘followers’ definitely don’t need to know where you are at all times.

Don’t forget to turn off your location on Snapchat map too, and save your precious data. Wait till you find yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere, only to realize you’ve used your last bit of data trying to check in to exotic locations no one knows well enough to be envious of.

For Pete’s sake, use a VPN

Free wifi. The very lifeblood of our species and possibly the only reason you’d find a self-proclaimed coffee snob at a Starbucks. We know the feeling of FINALLY finding an unsecured wifi access point while on vacation, but is it all that safe? Like they say, “Nothing is truly free in this world.”

Truth is, we can’t ever confirm how secure a wireless access point can really be. Everything you send over the network can be received by an attacker, and vice versa. All those passwords you’ve nonchalantly chucked into your Google Chrome keychain and we hope not, but, your credit card information? Those might be for your convenience, but don’t forget, that makes it convenient for hackers too.

Enter VPNs, or Virtual Private Networks, that will help protect your online activity and grant you the security you need when using those public wifi networks.

There are definitely a lot of VPN providers out there and you might be a little stumped on where to start looking. Good news though, as VPNpro has already reviewed a bunch of the different VPN providers in Singapore, along with their top pick.

Bonus tip: A VPN might also help you get around media restrictions in the country. Never miss an episode of Patriot’s Act while vacationing in China again (or the next country Hasan Minhaj decides to throw shade at)!

Factor in two-factor authentication

Two is definitely better than one, and in this case the extra layer of security could keep hackers and scammers at bay. We’re talking about a two-step verification process that protects your precious online accounts. Logging in from a new device will prompt the website to send a number code to your registered mobile phone, which you’ll have to key in to the website before you can access your account.

We’d advise you to activate it on accounts wherever possible so those pesky hackers won’t even be able to get past the login page.

Hatch a plan to get a wifi egg

That’s another way you can be safe from those sketchy public wifi networks. Those handy wifi eggs are available for rent in many countries, and it’s a portable wifi source that promises a safe and secure connection everywhere you go.

It’s also affordable when you share with friends so you’ll always have Google maps and Whatsapp on hand. That’s money saved on roaming charges – you’re welcome!

Or, simply take a break from your devices and enjoy your vacation! Let your phone reward you with a sparkling report of decreased weekly screen time.

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