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The Risks of Public WiFi for Travelers

January 30, 2018
Words by NordVPN
Photos courtesy of NordVPN

Cybersecurity Advice for Travelers who use Public WiFi Networks

Your destination wedding and/or honeymoon is a busy travel time, and it’s also the time when travelers should pay special attention to cybercrime. 

WiFi in hotels, airports, restaurants and other public spaces is usually unprotected and unsafe, and cybercriminals often lurk in these places, waiting to steal personal information from those who connect to open networks. 

Another tactic that cybercriminals use is setting up fake WiFi hotspots and calling them by the name of the real hotel, for example, “Guest WiFi.” When a user connects to such a hotspot, all their personal information can easily get stolen.

However, the legitimate hotel or airport WiFi is also not safe because it’s a public network. A hacker can connect to an open network anytime and snoop on users’ online activity, steal their passwords and personal information. They can also install malware on a user’s computer or hack into the hotel’s database and download credit card information of the guests.

The same open networks are used by most airports, restaurants or public spaces and everywhere a user connects to the Internet, their data may be stolen.

“The number one thing that Internet users should do is ensure that the information they transmit online is encrypted. A Virtual Private Network safely encrypts all information that a user enters online into a secure tunnel,” said Marty P. Kamden, CMO of NordVPN. “Other steps that users need to take are often common sense – to install latest security updates, to backup their information and so on.”

Using a VPN when browsing can protect a user against snooping and malware that targets online access points. That’s especially relevant when using a public hotspot.

Here’s NordVPN’s advice on staying safe while using public WiFi networks:

1. Use a VPN. VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) encrypt all the data a user shares across the Internet on any website. They are the best security mechanism to employ to make sure the data you share over the Internet is safe from prying eyes and remains confidential.

2. Avoid using debit cards. When using an open network, it’s better not to make any financial transactions online. However, if you must do it, it’s wiser to use a credit card, which comes with better protections.

3. Use strong passwords. Once a user uses the same password for many different accounts, these accounts can be easily hacked. It’s advisable to have different passwords for different accounts and to use a password manager to generate them. 

4. Use two-factor authentication. Using a two-factor authentication will make it harder for a hacker to access your account because one of the passwords will be a temporary code that only the user will receive.

It cannot be stressed enough how dangerous it is to share your personal or financial information with any website or any person over the Internet while using a public internet connection. Public Wi-Fi networks are common hunting grounds for attackers and data snoopers who try to access your personal information and use it for their benefit at your expense. If you must do online transactions while using a public network, then we recommend you use a VPN to stay safe.

 To find out more about NordVPN, please visit

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