Online security

10 July 2017

Reminder: safe internet surfing on holiday

Many people cannot live without the internet while on holiday. We like to show our friends and family those white beaches, that colourful cocktail or amazing waterfall in real time. To that end we share our holiday snaps on social media or video chats. If possible, via a free Wi-Fi hotspot to keep down the costs of our international internet use. But that is not without risks…

Free Wi-Fi: not without danger

Wi-Fi hotspots are notorious for their weak security. A fake Wi-Fi network can be quickly set up and requires little technical know-how. How can you ensure that you are surfing safely whilst on holiday? How do you prevent your device from being infected? Or your data from being stolen? These 6 tips will help you:

  1. Switch off your Wi-Fi or ensure that your device can only connect to a network you yourself choose. Then you will be certain that you have a secure connection. Laptops, tablets and smartphones are, after all, usually set up to recognise wireless networks they have used in the past and to automatically connect to them. Such ‘known’ networks can be hacked by criminals to connect you to a fake network. The details (e.g. passwords) you enter can be intercepted or you can end up on websites which spread viruses.

  2. Avoid Wi-Fi connections without a password. Anyone can pick up the wireless signal and once you are logged in, you will be communicating through an unsafe connection. Did you know that whoever makes Wi-Fi access available has access to the data which transits through that router? Therefore surf only via a secured Wi-Fi network.

  3. Do not use any public computers in a hotel or internet café. Such computers are very likely to be infected with malware which will try to intercept your personal details. If you do need to use a public computer, do not use any services for which you have to log in with a password.

  4. Secure your devices with anti-virus software or a security app. This keeps viruses and spyware at bay and protects you against hackers or a network attack. Update your devices, applications and anti-virus software before going on holiday, to ensure your versions are up-to-date.

  5. Use 3G or 4G to consult your bank account, make online payments or send important data. This is much safer than a Wi-Fi hotspot.

    Useful tip

    You no longer pay extra charges when you surf the internet in another European country – Belgian tariffs still apply. However, there are surfing limits – check with your operator to avoid going over them! Also bear in mind that it is generally possible to monitor your mobile phone usage via your operator’s app.

  6. Check whether the websites you visit are secure. You can see this if the URL or address bar displays a lock and begins with https://.

Devices lost or stolen?

Secure your devices

When on holiday do not leave your devices unattended in your hotel room or visible in your vehicle. After all, you would not normally do this at home. Use a cable lock for your laptop and secure your devices with a strong password. Then if you lose any of your devices it will not be possible for strangers to access your information.

Find it difficult to come up with and remember strong passwords? Consider pass phrases – they are more secure and easier to remember. Find out more in this article.

Do not let your devices out of your sight

You are more likely to lose your device than to have it stolen. Therefore check regularly that you still have your mobile device, for example after the security check at the airport, and when leaving a taxi, train, hotel or restaurant.

Back-up your devices

With a back-up you will always have a copy of your data if anything were to occur. Before your holiday check what you need and delete all unnecessary information. In that way the impact would be less if you were to lose your devices or have them stolen. Many mobile devices have a built-in function which allows you to trace them from a distance and delete information if they are lost or stolen. Switch that function on.

And last but not least, we hope you enjoy a safe holiday. Why not put your smartphone, tablet or laptop to the side now and again and have some fun.

Make sure that you are properly protected on a regular basis