It is estimated that Christmas is just a stone’s throw from over 113 million travelers (opens in a new tab) are getting ready to go on vacation – and only in the USA! Even more are expected to be on the move in the rest of the world.
Traveling often means spending long hours waiting at the airport or train station, in the car, plane, ferry or train. People are then more likely to connect to public Wi-Fi networks to stream media, watch YouTube videos, or browse social media feeds without consuming all their data. That’s when one of the best VPN services comes in handy this holiday season.
A VPN is software that spoofs your real IP address while encrypting all data that leaves your device. This means that hackers who want to use a public connection to break into a smartphone, tablet or laptop will not be able to do so.
Unfortunately, a recent study shows that most people are still not using such security software when connecting over risky Wi-Fi. Read on as we explain everything you need to know in more detail.
41% of respondents do not use a VPN at all
Ask any IT or cybersecurity expert and you’ll probably get the same answer: the era where business-only VPNs were a necessity is long gone. In the current digital landscape, every user must use a secure VPN to protect their online life. This is especially true for those who regularly connect to open internet hotspots.
Unfortunately, it turns out that most of us do still failure to comply with this important privacy-friendly practice.
in recent study conducted on 1000 American users (opens in a new tab) aged 18 or over, more than half of respondents (56%) said they did not use a VPN when accessing public Wi-Fi. Even worse, 41% do not use such security software at all.
While the danger lurks all year round, the risk becomes even greater during the holiday season as people are more likely to access the Internet from different countries and/or public networks.
That’s why a cybersecurity company Be careful (opens in a new tab) behind security, privacy, and identity theft solutions like Lookout Security antivirus software, has compiled a list of the most common threats to travelers to keep in mind if you’re on the move this holiday season.
Here are the main takeaways:
- Watch out for suspicious Wi-Fi connections: It’s true, airports and train stations always offer visitors their own free, legal network. However, hackers can hide behind a similar malicious network to trick scattered travelers and steal their credentials. Watch out for names like “Free_Airport_Internet” and opt out of automatically connecting to nearby networks.
- Using public USB charging stations can be dangerous: Yes, also public USB drives can be easily used by cybercriminals to infiltrate your device. Try to avoid crowded places. The same goes for using USB cables that belong to strangers.
- Don’t be fooled by travel-related phishing campaigns: As the holidays approach, you’ll likely receive email or text notifications. Unfortunately, hackers can also use travel phishing scams to try to scam you. Be suspicious of messages that trick you into clicking suspicious links or try to offer you travel deals that are too good to be true.
How a VPN can help
Short for virtual private network, a VPN is a security software that hides the location of an IP address while securing your data in an encrypted VPN tunnel.
As mentioned above, public Wi-Fi networks can easily be used by malicious entities looking to steal your data. By simply downloading and enabling a VPN, you will create a layer of protection around your most sensitive information. Then you can just relax during your vacation without worrying about your privacy.
Reliable VPN services are also essential for browsing the web anonymously under all circumstances and preventing nosy governments and malicious entities from accessing your data. This is something to keep in mind if you are going on holiday to a country with invasive surveillance practices.
Then you should look out for features like a strict no-logs policy, strong encryption protocols, and extra security options like a kill switch and split tunneling.
As far as how it works, a VPN is the perfect tool for accessing blocked social media platforms, apps, and websites. It is also very useful to keep up with your favorite TV shows abroad or again to bypass the strict online censorship that some countries impose within their borders.
It is worth noting that authoritarian governments may block the use of VPNs. This makes it extremely important even for travelers visiting such countries to choose a service that is integrated with blackout technology to avoid these blockages.