Cybercrime (seriously, no one’s devised a better name for it yet?) is now the fastest growing type of crime in the world. Identity theft is now a serious problem, particularly for every one of the nine million Americans who have theirs stolen each year. Travelers are especially at risk as they’re frequently using their credit cards, checking e-mail, and generally sharing their sensitive personal data with unknown WiFi networks around the world.
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Fortunately, there are almost as many ways to thwart cybercrime as there are flavors of cybercrime itself. Here are just a few of my favorites as they’re the cheapest, easiest, and most effective to implement:
#1: Beware Unsecured WiFi Networks
Airports, internet cafes, the people next door to your Airbnb accommodations … they all typically have one thing in common: unsecured WiFi networks. Sure, it’s easy to hop on and start surfing. But you could literally be sharing your sensitive personal data with everyone who’s connected to that network. Anyone with readily available snooping software could be logging your keystrokes and tracking your web activity.
The way around this? VPN software. We’ve mentioned Hotspot Shield before (see 5 Reasons Every Connected Traveler Should Be Using a VPN), especially because it’s available for Windows/Mac, Android, and iPhone/iOS. If you absolutely must connect to the web while traveling (is there anyone these days who doesn’t?), be sure to do so via a solid VPN solution. Hotspot Shield offers a free, ad-supported version and premium plans for just a few dollars per month.
#2: Stay Anonymous
Your internet provider is always tracking you, which means thieves can too. If they know where you are and where you aren’t at any give time, this can be valuable data used to steal your identity.
So it’s worth mentioning that another benefit of VPN software is that it allows you to maintain your anonymity from anywhere in the world. Traveling in China? Flip the switch on your VPN solution and, for all intents and purposes, the internet thinks you’re in Germany and you’ve essentially gone into stealth mode.
#3: Protect Your Wallet
Passports and credit cards have become infinitely “smarter” and more convenient with the implementation of RFID technology. But these magnetically sensitive chips also make swiping your data a piece of cake for hackers. The best way to keep your wallet safe is with a RFID-shielding wallet. These can be found on Amazon and the like for around $10-15 (USD) and they’re worth every penny.
Bottom line: the less personal data you share with the world, the better. Stay safe, stay secure, and stay anonymous.