At this time of year, it’s safe to say that many of you may be returning, or just about the embark, on a summer holiday. Now, as we mentioned before, if you fly from and to an EU country you can use your phone just as if you were at home. It’s a great change and so good to see, however there’s still going to be a number of people hunting down Wi-Fi hotspots in cafes and restaurants.
Why? Well, force of habit if I’m honest. People have been burned over and over again by sky-high mobile bills abroad and, even though a text message like this will arrive from your provider when you land, you’ve still got those niggling doubts at the back of your mind.
A Wi-Fi hotspot in a cafe is welcomed by diners, and means that you can keep in touch with those at home via FaceTime or WhatsApp for absolutely nothing. Video calls, voice calls, messaging. Total cost – zero.
Well, monetary cost at least.
Last year on holiday I managed to hook onto a number of free Wi-Fi hotspots, and the ones that don’t need any sort of password are the preferred ones. You don’t need to buy a meal, you don’t need to ask the waiter what the password is and you’re straight in there.
All it takes, in some instances, is your email address or your Facebook access, and off you go.
But what are you really signing yourself up for? With so many horrifying headlines about data breaches and ID left making news around the world, an open public Wi-Fi hotspot is both appealing and dangerous at the same time. The router, and the people running it, can see which websites you’re accessing – they can even post on your Facebook profile if you clicked “Connect with Facebook” to gain access. Suddenly they’ll know all about you, who your friends are and more.
Cybercriminals have always taken advantage of your vulnerability and they will continue to do it in the future. Since our mobile phones are always carried by us most of the times, we usually carry out our banking transactions, PayPal payments and many more activities through them. Your personal information and identity is on there and details about where you’ve been, who you’ve contacted and more.
Using a VPN Service
The humble VPN, which has now popped into the news again as Russia and China attempt to control the web, keeps your personal data out of the hands of potential hackers in many ways. There are various VPN services available in the market, both paid and free VPN options.
If you haven’t started using a VPN service to keep your mobile device and its contents safe, then just download one now. A VPN service keeps your mobile data under a security layer and provides bank-level encryption to your data which is impossible to intercept. With the help of a VPN, you can get connected to public Wi-Fi networks and securely browse the internet without the fear of getting hacked. In fact, a VPN is considered as one of the strongest internet tools to protect your mobile security. There are many good VPN services available in the market. However, most recommended would be FalcoVPN, TunnelBear and VPN Gate.
It’s not just this that you need to use though, because it’s also worth noting these 5 key points which will help to keep your mobile device secure.
1. Keep Your Software Up-To-Date
Every now and then the mobile software gets updated and with every update, new features are introduced which are even better than preceding ones. These features help fix bugs or any other small issues and also patch a number of security vulnerabilities that are already out there.
2. Create Strong Passwords
Although it can seem like a “faff”, it’s important to use strong password, and to ensure that you use them on places like Gmail or Yahoo! Mail. Once a hacker gets into your email, they can see even more detailed information about you and they can sign you up to services in seconds. Use different letters, numbers or special characters.
3. Avoid Unsecured Public Wi-Fi Networks
Even though you can still get connected to public Wi-Fi networks, at least use those with passwords on. If you turn your VPN software on whilst using a Public Wi-Fi hotspot, you’ll know that the people operating the same public network won’t be able to see what you’re doing.
4. Lock Your Phone Screen
Locking your phone screen with a strong passcode or a unique finger pattern can always keep your mobile device secure. I’ve never really used one, but if you want to make your device secure, go for it.
5. Download Trusted Apps
Stick to a recognized app store, such as Google Play, and stay away from downloading APK files from the internet if you can. Often these can be attractive, but they’re laced with viruses or worse and can hook into your phone and personal data – sending that information to who-knows-where.