Protecting your online electronics and digital data is no longer an option when traveling overseas.
If you want to keep your your gadgets functioning and your info safe, you have no choice but to take command of your own online security, when traveling outside of your home country.
You may be asking...is this something I really need to be concerned about?
Overseas travel is supposed to be a fun and worry free experience. Right?
Even when traveling for work, the idea is to stay focused on your business.
You’re not supposed to spend your travel time worrying about criminal hackers and scammers invading your personal techno-space to steal your data.
Or worse, killing your online electronics.
But that’s just what the hacking crowd has in mind.
They’re searching for you and your electronic machines in your hotel room, at the airport, and wherever you digitally connect with friends, family, or business associates while traveling overseas.
Online criminal hackers are everywhere, in every country. Their goal is to threaten travelers' online security, whenever you establish an online connection.
A pervasive and popular threat to international travelers is damage or infection to phones and laptops via pop-up ads.
The damage often occurs when you attempt to access the internet through hotel wi-fi, but are prevented from doing so unless or until you update one or more popular or familiar software programs.
Once these fake 'updates' are done, scammers have gained access to your protected data.
And worst case scenario: your computer is disabled or your electronics no longer function, having been taken over by the hackers.
A division of the FBI, known as the Internet Crime Complaint Center, offers a way for Americans to file a complaint, if an online invasion occurs. But that does little to quickly remedy your situation, if you're traveling abroad.
They do, however, offer suggestions for ways to protect yourself from online bad-guys before you travel and while on your trip.
Even though the the risk of invasion may be low, travelers can ward off many potential hackers by using only AC outlets in airport kiosks, rather than establishing a direct connection via a USB port.
Smart travelers avoid airport kiosks completely, relying on battery packs to power their electronics and eliminating possible exposure of their data.
And, since, since so many travelers compete for airport
connectivity, you eliminate both its cost as well and the difficulty of finding available connections.
Today’s traveler is easy prey for scammers, hackers, and thieves, who may be looking to spy, steal, or destroy your online electronics and personal data.
So, what’s a traveler to do to protect herself from prying eyes?
The simple answer is 'Don’t take your online electronics with you.'
But we know, that solution is neither practical or realistic in our age of online traveler connectivity.
Today's travel almost begs for travelers being online. It allows you to:
These are just some of the reasons today's travelers feel their online electronics are as important to their overseas trip as their clothes, shoes, and passports.
So, if you must travel with your electronics, you must also learn to protect your equipment, your data, and your online privacy, while staying safely connected on the road.
With a bit of advance planning and a commitment to stay digitally safe during your overseas travel, here are some basic cyber security tips to protect both your electronics and your data when traveling internationally:
While some of these steps may seem extreme, Americans, especially, are frequently targeted for their online electronics. Protect yourself and your equipment by being proactive.
And leave the thieves to bother someone else.
The newest threat to your online privacy, data security, not to mention your electronic devices, is coming from right here in the good ole USA, along with certain overseas countries, who signed on to stringent new rules for boarding U.S. bound aircraft [on direct flights] with your electronic devices.
I’m not disputing the need, or the right, of the TSA to enforce common-sense carry on rules.
But I do expect, when new or enhanced security measures are put into effect, American and other U.S. bound travelers should be given a reasonable method of compliance, rather than having to hand over our online electronics, resulting in the condoned stealing of personal property and the compromise [if not the outright loss] of our online privacy.
New boarding regulations [pre-Trump] were put in place at certain overseas airports, where random travelers are asked to power up their electronic equipment, as part of their security clearance.
This is in addition to routine examinations of mobile or hand-held devices.
If your device battery is dead or refuses to power up, options for getting your device onboard with you are practically nil. In plain English, this means your device may be confiscated, and you won't be allowed to take it with you on the aircraft.
Your options: you can change to another flight, allowing time to charge your device. You can try to mail it home [an expensive proposition, if traveling internationally]. Or you can kiss your online electronics goodbye, along with your stored data, personal or work files, and online privacy.
The solution seems simple and clear: make sure all of your travel electronics are fully charged before entering airport security lines.
But, that’s not always easy to do, if you find yourself at your outbound airport with a long wait and your device battery running low.
Battery packs, charging cables, rapid-charge stations, and external batteries - any of these might work, if there’s time and a place to use them. And, if the TSA allows you to carry such component devices onboard with you.
But these random 'power up' rules can result in international travelers being caught powerless to retain possession of their equipment, much less maintain the integrity of their data and online privacy.
This rule [effective as of July, 2014] still has travelers - and sometimes TSA agents - scrambling for solutions. International business travelers have been especially hard hit, as flying home often comes at the end of a busy day of electronic usage.
Your best hope for keeping your online electronics in your possession when boarding a flight back to the U.S., is to make sure your electronics are sufficiently charged for any requested power up at security check points.
If not, you run the risk of your devices and all your
data winding up in someone else’s hands.