travel privacy

How to Protect Your Data Privacy While Traveling

Here’s the scenario: You’re at the airport or train station and have an hour to kill. This might be a good time to be mindful of your data privacy and health –– on and offline.

Pro Tips:

  • Out of consideration for your health –– unless you ran a double marathon right before your trip and are doing an Ironman the next day –– avoid Cinnabon’s Caramel Pecanbon (1080 calories), found at many an airport. Delicious but deadly.
  • No seriously. Skip it.
  • Consider the following easy-to-do steps to protect your privacy and stay safe and secure online while traveling. Bonus: These privacy tips work when you get home, too.

Make Sure You Only Use Encrypted Network Connections for More Privacy

Try to only visit encrypted websites that use HTTPS (note the lock icon in your browser). Encryption is key to Internet Health. HTTPS sites are secure and prevent bad guys from peeking into what you are viewing on your browser. If any websites you use on a regular basis don’t use HTTPS, contact them and tell them to update. Let’s Encrypt makes it easy.

Be careful when entering any personal information for website access. If you’re using Firefox, it will display a green lock icon when you’re viewing a page with a secure connection. This is to inform you that if you enter your password, you are reasonably safe from eavesdroppers.

Turn on two-step authentication for all your accounts. Two-step authentication is one of the best ways to prevent unauthorized access to your private accounts. Even if somebody manages to steal your private password, you’ll get a text notifying you when the thief tries to login from an unfamiliar phone or computer. It’s easy to set this up and requires both your password and device to get access to your accounts.

Extra Credit

Use private browsing. Every modern browser has a function to keep your search history and other data somewhat secret. Firefox has private browsing and tracking protection, which minimizes the ability of hidden third parties to track your activity across many sites. Firefox Focus for your iPhone erases your history every time after every search. Pretty nifty.

Avoid Cinnabon’s Cinnamon Roll Coffee Chillatta if you want to work/read on the trip. Sorry to come back to this. This delicious concoction packs 900 calories into one frothy drink. I speak from experience. You’ve been warned.

 

Make Your Devices More Secure For More Privacy

Turn your phone off when going through border control. If you turn off your device, you’ll be required to enter a password to open the device when you turn it back on –– assuming you set one up (see above). This is true even if you turned on the fingerprint functionality.

Make sure you have a password on your device. Every device invites users to create a password for extra security. Think of a password like your ATM card PIN. You wouldn’t want any old Tom, Dick or Harry to get hold of your card without a PIN to protect it. Same deal with your device. Set a password. It takes five seconds.

Remove apps you’re not using. Deleting apps doesn’t just save you data and storage –– it also decreases the chance these apps can be insecure. You should also turn on automatic updates for apps when on WiFi, or take a moment to update them. Updated apps are more likely to be secure.

Update your device to latest version of your operating system and back it up. Backing up your phone and keeping your OS current means your data is there for you if your device is stolen or damaged and you’re using the latest security tools.   

Extra Credit

Download a password manager. These handy tools store passwords for you and can create randomized passwords. Having many passwords as opposed to just one is a best practice.

Grab an apple and some nuts. Just so I’m being fair, it’s not just Cinnabon that should be carefully considered while killing time at the airport. DYK a Big Mac has 900 calories? That’s like 9 apples. Choose wisely my friends.

27 comments on “How to Protect Your Data Privacy While Traveling”

  1. Arpit singh wrote on

    Very nice tips and this may help us to protect our mobile data and stay safe.

    1. mdeakubali wrote on

      my pc in monitor show that mozila firefox has working stopped and crashed ….. what is solution for this?

      1. M.J. Kelly wrote on

        I encourage you to check out Firefox Support for help: https://support.mozilla.org/products/firefox

  2. Marjorie wrote on

    Thank you. Helpful!

    1. Daniel Kessler wrote on

      You are very welcome.

  3. Kathryn wrote on

    What password management software do you recommend. I have some but have never used them because:

    1) I’m never sure I should trust the firm that created it
    2) They seem to work by making all your passwords random. What I want is a secure app to store passwords that I make up. None of the ones I’ve looked at seem to work that way.

    1. Daniel Kessler wrote on

      Hi Kathryn:

      I can’t recommend a single product, however I have used 1 Password and found it very easy to use and reliable.

      1. Kathryn wrote on

        Thanks. I actually have that app on my iPhone. I’ll have to give it another chance.

    2. Victor wrote on

      Try Master Password (masterpasswordapp.com). You don’t have to trust anyone to use it and it doesn’t store any of your passwords anywhere, instead it generates them using the same algorithm each time you log in. So as long as you remember your name, “master” password and site name, you won’t ever lose (or have to remember) your passwords even if you lose your device.

    3. Anon wrote on

      I use KeePass. To address you questions in regards to it:

      1) You don’t have to trust any company, because the code is available for all to see.
      2) You can do this with it if you want to.

    4. G wrote on

      +1 for KeePass. Stores passwords offline, encrypted. You can sync to other devices by uploading the database file to Google Drive or similar.

  4. linda wrote on

    I use multiple devices to access websites. Can the same password manager be used if using different computers, tablets, phones etc?

    1. Daniel Kessler wrote on

      Absolutely. It’s like a vault that you can store in more than one place.

  5. Roxy wrote on

    You’re adorable, thanks for the great tips!
    Cheers

  6. Patelgd wrote on

    Thank U , Helpful.

  7. Kirsten wrote on

    invest in RFID secure wallets or purses. your credit cards can be scanned just by getting too close to you. (Yes i sell them through Damsel in Defense, NO i am hardly the only source. seriously any decent travel store will have one)

    1. Vic wrote on

      Sorry but RFID blocking wallets and purses are not a good use of your money. The most important reason is that the vast majority of people’s credit cards don’t have RFID and don’t transmit info wirelessly. Apple Pay and Android pay while using RFID, have a much more complex and secure system than the few old gen credit cards that used RFID. That little chip in your card? That’s NOT RFID. It requires you to insert into a chip reader and prevents people from using skimmers.

      http://www.infoworld.com/article/3023422/security/why-you-dont-need-an-rfid-blocking-wallet.html

  8. Craig wrote on

    Using a vpn will encrypt your data while it’s on the network you’re directly connected to, where you are most vulnerable to miscreants.

  9. Sly wrote on

    If the website refuses to update to https and tells you nothing is wrong with their website, what can be done about it, please?

    1. Vic wrote on

      Sly, if the website chooses not to use https to secure your communication, there’s not much that can be done from that standpoint other than not use it.

      You can connect anonymously through a proxy or the TOR network for instance, but if you send data, it can still be intercepted in plain text.

  10. Bruce wrote on

    Your hints are all good ones.

    The picture in the NY Post of Governor Christie stopping at Cinnabon really drives home how important your comments about that were. After having his stomach cut down, he’s still tremendous. I’ve caught religion recently – about internet privacy, net neutrality, and weight control.

    So thanks much!

  11. Natalia wrote on

    Daniel,

    Thank you for your awesome article!
    Please, keep them coming our way.
    Wishing you best of luck and happiness : )

  12. Natalie wrote on

    Thank you for your relevent article!
    Please, keep them coming our way.
    Wishing you best of luck and success.

  13. Larry Weaver wrote on

    Seriously, eat anything your heart desires just because you know about cyber security you do not have the right to tell anyone what they are allowed to eat. Don’t bring tons of electronic toys on your trip.The internet is destroying the art of traveling.

  14. Tricia wrote on

    Great stuff! Such useful information for a novice (and others). Enjoyed the humour too.

  15. biruktesfa zenebe wrote on

    pleas how can i protect my computer

  16. Alex wrote on

    This is awesome and should work well