Summer vacation is here. Your suitcases are packed and of course your mobile is coming along as your trusty travel companion. After all, having the Internet in your pocket or beach bag makes a lot of things easier when you’re on the road: posting your favorite snapshots to Facebook, picking the best routes in your maps app, or reserving a rental car for that daytrip. And because so many cafes, restaurants and hotels have public hotspots, it’s not even expensive. But be careful! WIFI access is often unencrypted, making it a popular point of attack for hackers and data thieves. That guy sitting at the table next to yours? He could be using the insecure connection to pry into your personal data like emails, passwords or chat protocols. The IT security specialist Steganos Software GmbH therefore recommends vacationers take action to protect themselves from attacks like this. How? With a VPN client like Steganos Online Shield for iOS and Android. Nice side effect: With an activated VPN app, you can even watch your favorite TV stations when you’re abroad.

"Belt of stories" by Andy Li is licensed under CC BY 2.0
“Belt of stories” by Andy Li is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (http://bit.ly/1SmZkNt)

“Just because you’re going on vacation doesn’t mean that credit card thieves and email fraudsters are taking time off, too. On the contrary! You have to be particularly careful when you’re traveling. Everyone should take the initiative to protect themselves from snoops by installing the appropriate software on their mobile devices,” explains Gabriel F. Yoran, Managing Director of Steganos Software GmbH, a Berlin-based IT firm specialized in security solutions.

Once activated, a VPN client like Steganos Online Shield VPN establishes an encrypted virtual private network (VPN) on your smartphone or tablet. All of your traffic is routed through this data tunnel and thus hidden from prying eyes so that any hackers on the same wireless network cannot log your data. Plus, you are 2 also surfing anonymously if you use an activated VPN app. The software switches your IP address, thus hiding your identity. In addition, Steganos Online Shield VPN can identify other devices on the same WIFI. This means the app can quickly recognize and block any potential threats.

And for another annoyance on vacation, a VPN app like Steganos Online Shield VPN is an elegant solution: there might be a important game on at home, or your favorite show, and the hotel you’re staying at only shows regional TV stations. With a VPN app, you can toggle an IP address from the country of your choice when you go online, and thus navigate around any restrictive country settings to watch what you want to watch.

The installation of a VPN client can also protect mobile network users from data theft and online espionage. To minimize the number of potential security gaps for hackers, Steganos recommends updating your operating system and all apps before you leave on vacation. If you’re taking your laptop with you on your trip, you should also encrypt your hard drive. If it gets stolen, it can be located remotely, disabled, and all of the data on it can be deleted. Make sure to also bring along the customer service number of your mobile carrier and your bank so that telephones and credit cards can be quickly disabled and blocked if worse comes to worst. Despite all of these precautions, travellers on vacation should still try to avoid activities that could be critical to their security, such as online banking and shopping online.