Tag Archives: Public Wi-Fi

SPF 50 protection for your tech this summer

Make traveling this summer a cool breeze by preparing your tech gadgets for the trip. A few actions prior to leaving will ensure you can enjoy the hard earned vacation.

If your carry-on luggage is like mine, you have a lot of thing that need connecting to the internet.  Between my wife, son and myself it is not unusual for us to carry 3 laptops, 3 phones, an iPad and a gaming tablet – and that doesn’t even include our wearables!  That’s at least 8 devices I need to think about charging and that’s also the first thing I think about when booking a hotel.  I look for those magic words, “unlimited free WiFi”.

Having a safe vacation isn’t just about going online safely but it’s also about securing your finances and your family’s digital life.  And it doesn’t start when you arrive.  See below for my safety tips from start to finish:

Before you go…

  • If you are traveling abroad be sure to let your bank and credit card company know, they look for fraudulent transactions and if your card is used in a different country then it may get blocked until you confirm its actually you. Avoid this with a proactive phone call before you go.
  • If you are bringing a laptop, consider leaving some data at home by removing sensitive documents. In the event someone steals your laptop, then that’s all they get.  This helps safeguard your identity.  Be sure to back-up your data before you leave for the airport.
  • Secure your mobile devices and laptops with strong passwords and if you have not already set up anti-theft software on your smartphone, then download it and register. AVG AntiVirus for Android has this feature.
  • You can avoid running up significant cell phone bills by disabling data roaming. If you don’t want to disable it completely then at least go through your apps and disable it for the non-critical ones. Games and parking apps don’t need to update themselves when you are on the beach!
  • Be cautious not to advertise the fact that you’re away from home by posting your minute-by-minute location on social media sites. You can switch off location services that might automatically check you in somewhere exotic.
  • If you are going to use public wifi, then consider installing a personal VPN product on the devices that you are going to connect. HMA’s VPN products can be installed several devices with a single subscription and they are part of the AVG family of security and privacy apps.
  • Update your security software and applications, this will ensure the latest security patches are installed and reduce the risk of you getting a malware infection. This is more important when traveling as you may not know which sites are reputable when you land in a foreign

Once you’re there…

The minute the plane lands, the mad rush to switch on the phone begins.  What did you miss while flying?  Probably not much.  Airport, coffee shops and hotels are the destinations of choice for those needing a vital connection. How do I stay safe on public WiFi?

  • The first thing to remember may seem obvious but many people don’t think of it. That’s to take a look behind you. Yes, that person behind you on the plane or in the coffee shop has direct visibility of your screen and if you log-in or make a transaction, they may well be watching.
  • When the list of Public WiFi networks is displayed don’t trust them without asking. Make  sure you connect to an official one rather than a fake one that a cyber-criminal may have set up in order to trick you.  If in doubt, ask the manager at the shop.
  • Use a VPN when connected. This encrypts the connection in case any snoopers are watching the data running on a public network and they won’t be able to see what you are doing. Tools to snoop are readily available and easy to use making this a real threat.
  • When possible, leave transactions to the privacy of your hotel room or if I can wait until you get home – that’s the best option. Booking tickets is one task that will not wait, so use a credit card rather than a debit card.  Credit cards have limits and do not give someone access your bank account.

And possibly the best tip of all – disconnect and enjoy your vacation without the interruptions of technology!  Last year, this was forced upon me when we found that the national park we stayed in had no cell service and the nearest WiFi was 50 miles away. It was frustrating to start with, but great once we got used to it.

Receive BIG savings this summer when you download HMA’s VPN  for a limited time only.

Is free Wi-Fi Safe?

Public networks are so convenient, they’ve popped up everywhere: cafes, airports, shopping centers. They’re almost everywhere.

But be warned: since your data is traveling through the air—sometimes completely unprotected—hackers could be listening in.

Bad guys could:

  • Eavesdrop on what you are doing
  • Steal your passwords
  • Intercept your communications and alter them, aka a Man-in-the-middle attack

When you’re connecting to an unknown Wi-Fi or network, ask yourself these questions:

  • Who owns the network?
  • Who else is on the network?

If you don’t know the answers to those questions, don’t do sensitive things like shop or bank online. Wait until you’re home or on a network you trust.

If you absolutely must access your bank accounts or shop for things, use a VPN like AVG Safe Surf to stay protected.


10 Tips to stay safe online this summer vacation

I recently got back from a family holiday in Yellowstone where there was no Internet connection at all. For me it was a blissful digital detox but my son didn’t take so kindly to it. He would jump onto any public network that appeared, regardless of its security, in an attempt to get himself back online where he could game and chat with his friends.

It got me thinking that, from start to finish, there were a lot of things during a summer vacation that could lead to some risky online behavior.

With that in mind, I’ve put together my 10 tips to help you and your family stay safe while booking, travelling and enjoying your vacation.


Summer Travel Tips


Read more

For full details on all the above tips and more, check out my simple fact sheet.

Can a plane be hacked and controlled through inflight Wi-Fi?

A number of leading publications jumped on the report and within hours, it had become a viral sensation.

Like most, when I first saw the article I had a brief moment of serious concern, especially as I travel frequently on business. On further consideration, I decided to investigate further as there is extensive regulation and compliance in the aircraft industry.

We have seen many industries struggle with security as more services move to digital and connect to the Internet of Things. One example is the medical industry where devices handle sensitive data. This article in The Atlantic gives a great summary of the points.

So based on what we’ve seen in other industries, would a vulnerability on an aircraft seem farfetched? Probably not.

However, as I mentioned, aviation is a highly regulated industry with security standards and safety at its core. It would therefore surprise me if someone left the backdoor open and the aircraft’s avionics were accessible through the Wi-Fi.

The following diagram is probably what made this report go viral.

Plane Wi-Fi


The government report and its diagram may be highlighting an area of concern but according to Dr Phil Polstra, as stated in a Forbes article ‘The GAO report was put together by people who didn’t understand how modern aircraft actually work’.

Based on Dr Polstra’s comments and his credibility as an expert in this area I think we can rest assured that the frightening nature of the article that went viral is a false alarm.  The real risk here is someone publishing a report when they may not have fully understood the subject matter.

I will be getting on a plane soon and will not be concerned that the person in the seat next to me might be hacking the flight system. However, if they could adjust the temperature and lighting around my seat, that would be useful.

Follow me on twitter @tonyatavg

Title image courtesy of ArsTechnica