Let’s face it, the internet is full of dangers and connecting to it outside of your own home can make it even more risky. There are however ways to secure your connection and data while travelling and using hotel, cafe or other unknown sources of internet. Lets begin…
Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
This sounds a lot more complicated than it is (for those tech dinosaurs anyway). It’s simply you connecting to a secure network which in turn connects to the internet for you. Your connection to the network and beyond is all encrypted which means if anyone is snooping then all they will find is a whole load of scrambled data they can’t make sense of.
You can set-up a VPN by signing up with a VPN company such HideMyAss and then from there they will give you login details and a link to download the software onto your PC/Mac/Mobile for which you will use to make the connection.
A VPN not only secures your connection but also you can watch catchup TV in your home country by selecting which country you want to make the connection to (you do this in the software which you download from the VPN company). So if BBC iPlayer isn’t working outside the UK then you can connect to the UK VPN servers for the VPN company and as if by magic you can watch catchup again.
Encrypt your hard drive and files
Windows and Mac both have built in hard drive encryption technology. When enabled this scrambles the data on your hard drive so that if for example your laptop is stolen, the data on the hard drive cannot be recovered by the bad guys. This is also possible on most new mobile phones, here are the usual ways:
- Windows 8 or 10 encryption
- OS X Mac Encryption
- Mobiles – go to settings, then security and look for ‘encryption’.
If you don’t have this option available or if you just want to encrypt some files but not a whole drive then you could also use VeraCrypt. It works by making a virtual encrypted hard disk which you can put all your files in which need to be protected. Each time you need to access them you will need to mount the hard disk in VeraCrypt, enter the password and then a new hard drive will appear which will contain these files.
Yubikey and LastPass password manager
If you’re somebody with a lot of passwords then you may wish to think about using a secure password manager such as LastPass. Some people are sceptical about using a password manager like this in-case it gets hacked, however if you have a secure password you use for your LastPass account and this is the only place you use that password then there’s really little to worry about.
The password manager will store all of your passwords, automatically change them, automatically log you in, generate secure passwords and more. All your passwords are stored in your LastPass account on their website and there servers are all secured with top notch security and encryption so that hackers should never be able to access your data.
If this however isn’t enough then the nomad guru also uses a security key (a little usb device that plugs in) we recommend Yubikey, to create a two-factor security system. This means that in order to login to LastPass to access all your passwords then you will need this Yubikey plugged in to your laptop. So nobody apart from the person with the password (you) and also the Yubikey security key (also you) can login. Job done!
Zero Knowledge cloud storage
If your hard drive is too small or you want access to your files anywhere or any device then encrypted cloud storage is a great option. Your files are stored in a fully encrypted server which nobody (not even the employees at the company) can access because your data is all scrambled. The only way to unscramble it is by you logging in with your password. You may even be able to use your Yubikey in conjunction with your password to give that second factor of security.
We recommend Tresorit as so far over a thousand hackers, universities and other institutions have managed to find a hole in their security. They have a $50,000 bounty for anyone who does discover one, so you can have complete confidence that your files are totally safe.
This can be helpful if you have a small or solid state hard drive and need to have access to more storage while travelling around or settled in one location.
Truly private encrypted email
Lets face it, we all think our email accounts with gmail and other providers are secure but I’ve never trusted them. If you really want your emails to be safe then you should use ProtonMail for your email provider. It’s free if you don’t mind waiting a couple of weeks to get your account, otherwise you can make a small donation to get access right away. If you use LastPass then we would recommend setting up your LastPass account using your new ProtonMail email address.