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The No-Nonsense Guide to Data Security for Travelers

On the principal Tuesday of each month, Dave Dean from Too Many Adapters gives us main tips and advice on travel tech and gear. This month’s column is attached data security. It’s external local remedy that worries a lot of travelers (especially folks like me who work online) in such a manner Dave is delving deep into the subject today.

If there’s a less sexy take a trip subject than data security, I dress in’t know what it is. When you’re planning your convict and up to your elbows in manage books, maps, and blog posts with reference to deserted beaches and delicious foods, it’s not going to subsist backup strategies or file encryption that gets your courage racing.

And that’s a grain of a problem. If you’re going to subsist toting a smartphone, tablet or laptop on all sides the world, protecting your data veritably matters. It doesn’t take a huge effort or cost to keep yourself sound – but if you don’t, you’re at grave risk of losing all of your step quickly photos, having your identity stolen, accounts hacked, and giving yourself a technology cephalalgy that’s far more toilsome than a night drinking at the topical hostel.

Below are detailed ways to back up your memories the fit way, protect your data, and keep away from common security mistakes. By doing the following things, you’ll none be stressed about the technology and denunciation you use and share on the track.

Public computers are bad news


When I started traveling in the far advanced nineties, Internet cafes were pretty much the only way to get online. I nevertheless remember sitting hunched over a spent keyboard in a sweaty little store in Dar es Salaam, dust and fumes from the nearby street forming a murky haze as I battled with the slowest connection in the terraqueous globe to let my family know I was uniformly alive.

Many of those dusty cafes be seized of since shut down as travelers exercise their own devices and cheap Wi-Fi connects the earth. From a security standpoint, that’s a competent thing. Public computers are bad intelligence. Those ramshackle old desktops in Internet cafes or the niche of the hostel common room may during the time that well have a big sign forward them saying “Please Steal My Data”. Why?

They’re typically abounding of all kinds of unknown software installed through . staff and customers over the years.

Security and poison updates don’t get finished – nobody cares enough to maintain things suitably. I once scanned a hostel computer on this account that viruses just to amuse myself, boundary stopped after it found fifty in the earliest couple of minutes.

It’s real easy to install key-logging software that demise capture everything you type, sift through it conducive to anything that looks like usernames and passwords, and jaculate it off for others to exercise.

In short, if you have at alldegree other way of getting online, application it.

If you absolutely must conversion to an act a public computer – it’s a portentous emergency or you really need to press that boarding pass – there are a not many ways to make it a minute safer. These aren’t foolproof, on the contrary they’re a good rouse:

Don’t do anything involving coin . This means online banking, Paypal and other pecuniary services, as well as buying anything online that requires you to come into credit card details, are off limits. You’re due taking unnecessary risks by doing in such a manner.

Use 2-factor authentication for of the same kind with many online services as possible. These blend something you know (like a countersign) and something you have (an SMS word, phone, fingerprint scanner, or special app) to cause single-use passwords. Even if your register information is stolen, nobody else be able to use it to log in. SMS-based confirmation systems can be a problem with regard to travelers, especially if your phone doesn’t work overseas, so check out other options like the Google Authenticator app by reason of your phone or tablet first.

USB sticks be possible to help. If you travel with your acknowledge laptop or Android device and emergency to print something out, copy the file onto a memory stick beforehand and use that rather than logging onto email forward a shared computer. You can furthermore copy software you’re in a fair way to need onto a USB staff, and use that instead of the fluctuating versions installed on the computer you’re using. Even proper using a browser like Firefox Portable or Chrome Portable is a precious start. Check out Portableapps.com to inquire the range of portable software that’s useful.
Just remember to scan your USB switch for viruses regularly, from a manoeuvre you trust.

At an absolute least part, use the web browser’s Incognito/Private Browsing way to avoid your details being saved, log out of everything of the apps you use, and reboot the computer at what time you’re finished with it.

Public wi-fi is renowned but it’s not protect


Cafes, hostels, airports, even parks and persons spaces often offer cheap or informal Wi-Fi that anyone can practice. Sometimes it’s hard to be assured of where a signal is even advent from, but if we can observe it, you can bet we’ll try to exercise it.

That’s where the problems depart.

By default much of your advice is visible to anyone with the becoming tools as it moves across a wireless reticulated. Networks that need a password aren’t abundant better than those that don’t — for what cause many people have been given the details for your hostel Wi-Fi this month? When was that countersign on the caf chalkboard last changed?

You gain to assume that other people have power to connect to the network you’re using. Once they’ve translated that, any data you don’t protect is at risk. Someone can strictly sit drinking a coffee in the put to a stand while their computer scans and saves your personal information.

So what should you behave?

Always use Virtual Private Network (VPN) software. In single-minded terms, a VPN lets you conjoin to a server somewhere else in the world and encrypts all of the intelligence that passes between you and it. Good unimpeded options include TunnelBear and Cyberghost, what one. can also be upgraded to open paid services.

I use Witopia PersonalVPN Pro, that costs around $6/month and has worked in every country I’ve tried it. Look on the side of a service that can be used by both laptops and mobile devices, and specifically says it works in China. If it works in that place, it’s likely to be anywhere.

If for some reason you be possible to’t use a VPN, at smallest protect your web browsing. Try typing ‘https’ in the room of ‘http’ into the readiness bar — to access Gmail, beneficial to example, you’d type https://gmail.com. If a padlock appears at the side of the address, the data you toss and receive from that site is encrypted. If you’re using Chrome, Firefox or Opera, it’s so much as easier – install the HTTPS Everywhere plugin and it’ll end this for you automatically.

It’s a great quantity harder to intercept cellular networks than Wi-Fi ones, thus if you’re doing something sensitive and have access to moderately-priced cell data on your phone or lozenge, use it.

Backups are boring – goal you need to do them!


Backing up your data while traveling is boring. Let’s front it, there’s always a portion much more interesting to do….unswerving up to the point where you let slip the thousands of photos you’ve taken adhering your trip, or the phone tell off and email address of everyone you’ve met. Laptops master stolen, hard drives break, phones gain dropped in the toilet, memory cards corrupt. Bad things come to pass, and you need to prepare by reason of them.

There’s an former saying among geeks like me that premises stored in one place doesn’t certainly exist. For travelers, this generally property copying new files to a sundry device as soon as possible, and to in some place online not long after that.

There are manifold different approaches you can take, depending forward the gear you travel with and which you need to back up. I’ll thicket a couple of common scenarios, and you have power to find more detail here, here and in this place.

Travel with a laptop? Read this!
For those traveling by a laptop, backing up is honest if you follow a simple process. Before leaving on your trip, strike at up a portable hard drive (they require to be paid as little as $50 for a 1GB shape). Each night, copy the day’s photos from your camera or smartphone, on that account plug your hard drive in and back everything up. Now, flat after you delete shots from your phone or camera SD card, you’ve after that got two copies of them.

Theft, enthusiasm, water and more can take out your camera, laptop and convenient drive all at once — to be completely safe, you also need one online backup. Due to slow and abnormal internet connections when traveling, these backups can take a long time to journey – I started mine while travelling in Australia and New Zealand, and it didn’t get done until I got to Thailand four months later!

Free options like Dropbox, iCloud and Google Plus are amercement for storing a limited number of photos, and I used them according to a couple of years. Eventually admitting, I moved to a paid subscription by Crashplan – for around $5/month, I take unlimited online storage for any genus of file, and it runs automatically at whatever time I have an Internet connection. (Matt says: I employment Crashplan. It’s saved my notorious life on more than one persuade.)

If you’re using a Mac, the built-in Time Machine does a dutiful job of managing hard drive backups automatically. If you simply want to copy photos, documents and music to online storage, iCloud may fit your needs – you get 5GB of capacity for free, and can easily corrupt more.

For Windows users, there are dozens of choices – similar to mentioned I use Crashplan, as it deals by both hard drive and online backups automatically at a wise price. There’s a version for Mac too, if you necessity unlimited cloud storage or want to back up all file types.

Don’t pass with a laptop? Read this!
If you’ve resolute not to carry a laptop attached your trip, backing data requires a scornfully different approach. The first challenge is copying photos from your camera to a smartphone or slab – here’s how to swindle it for both Android and Apple devices, as long as you’ve got sufficiency storage.

Once you’ve transferred your photos, it’s time to back them up to a distinct device. There are different ways to work this, but the easiest option is to corrupt a wireless hard drive (something like the Seagate Wireless Plus) that creates its acknowledge hotspot, then use the app it comes through to copy files backwards and forwards. Added gift: this is also a great habitual method of carrying around a large movie or minstrelsy collection without filling up your smartphone or tablet.

The easiest part of the performance is backing your shots up online – it’ll on the same level happen automatically if you copy the files from your camera into the seemly folder on your phone or troche. Those with Apple devices can merited enable iCloud, while Android users have power to achieve the same thing with the Camera Upload cast of the face of Dropbox. In either case, rightful pay for as much additional army storage as you need – it’ll subsist a few dollars a month in principally cases.

Protecting your data when it’s out of your hands

Sometimes bad things happen no matter how heedful you are. Laptops, tablets and phones are fascinating targets for thieves. While you have power to’t always prevent someone theft your gear, you can at in the smallest degree take a few precautions to blockade them accessing your data as well.

Always exercise a PIN Code or Password
The before anything else step is to always set up a PIN digest or password on your device. It but takes a few seconds to confer, and is a good deterrent to incidental thieves. On your laptop, use a throughout password that doesn’t come upon the stage in a dictionary and isn’t easily guessable. If your phone or troche supports PIN numbers longer than 4 digits application one – and if you’ve using a current example of iPhone or iPad, enable the Touch ID fingerprint scanner while well.

Enable encryption
If PIN verse and passwords are good for harmony casual eyes off your personal intelligence, encryption does the same thing in favor of more determined snoops. Even if someone pulls the obdurate drive out of your laptop or manages to bypass your PIN enumerate, your data remains protected. Without the fit password, your information is just a heap of random characters. It’s not burdensome to set up on most devices, and is or easily will be enabled by default forward new iOS and Android devices.

If you’re using a Mac, make capable File Vault.

For those running incontestable high-end versions of Windows 7 or 8, enable BitLocker. Going forward, most new Windows-based computers resolution ship with encryption enabled.

Encryption of principally sensitive data is turned on by default if you’re using each Apple phone or tablet running iOS 8.

To qualify encryption on recent versions of Android, avaunt to Settings – Security – Encrypt Phone and follow the instructions.

Bear in mind that encrypting every part of your data can take several hours, in like manner don’t start the continuous experiment if you’re going to lack to use your device any time willingly.

Tracking and remote wiping
Software like Prey, Find My iPhone and Android Device Manager completely offer various features for tracking from the top to the bottom of your stolen gear. They can story their location, take photos and video, valid alarms, display messages on the guard and more, and have helped reunite various people with their technology. Make unfailing they’re set up and acting correctly before your gear goes wanting!

If all else fails and you’ve resolute that your gadgets just aren’t arrival back, you can also tell some of the above software to distantly delete everything on your device the next time it connects to the Internet. At smallest that way you only need to bemoan the loss of your technology, and not your corporal information as well!

A Few Parting Tips


As well in the same manner with everything covered above, there are a few other basic tips that will remedy you keep your data safe without ceasing the road.

Use anti-virus software to hold the bad guys out. AVG makes a best fruits, free anti-virus system that I’ve been using conducive to years on both Windows and Android, and there’s a (non-free) Mac reading available as well.

Update your device and software regularly. In other accents, don’t ignore those annoying prompts to introduce into office security patches and new software versions – they’re in that place for a reason! Wait until you’ve got a pure Internet connection, then let them scamper.

Rather than using the same tremendous password for everything, use a secret parole manager to create unique, super-intense passwords for all of the contrasted websites and services you use. I personally exercise Lastpass (free on desktop, a dollar by month on mobile), but there are manifold other options. I now only privation to remember one master password – the the same for Lastpass itself.

Keeping your data safe, secure, and protected when you roam doesn’t have to exist hard work. Spend a little time and money setting everything up properly before you allowance, and you’ll need to act almost nothing extra day to age. Backups start automatically, and only take a scarcely any minutes if you do them regularly. Staying safe on dubious Wi-Fi connections takes two clicks, and creating powerful passwords is even easier. Encryption takes care of itself one time you set it up.

And doing whole that is better than having your identity clandestine, your bank accounts hacked and vigilance every photo you’ve taken without ceasing your trip disappear off the back of a tuk-tuk.

Dave runs Too Many Adapters, a position devoted to technology for travellers. A geek while long as he can remember, he worked in IT towards fifteen years. Now based out of a backpack lengthy term, Dave writes about travel and tech from anywhere by half-decent Internet and a persons of rank view.  You can also find him talking in various places the life of a long-call traveller at What’s Dave Doing?

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