Off on holiday – but not without access to a secure WLAN hotspot

Off on holiday – but not without access to a secure WLAN hotspot
22 Aug 2017

After a day on the beach, that small restaurant in the side street looks very inviting – the ideal place to finish off the evening? Perfect – and there’s WLAN available as well, for uploading the new photos. However, even if the dangers of an unsecured WLAN hotspot are limited, they should, at the same time, also be taken seriously. Particularly when you’re on holiday, you won’t know where and when which operators are hiding behind which WLAN hotspots. Here are some useful tips to suit the holiday season!

“It can’t be that bad…“

Yes it can, because, due to the large number of open access hotspots, attackers with the necessary know-how are presented with a sea of unsuspecting tourists. Via a WLAN hotspot, data such as logins and passwords for e-mail addresses, account data for online banking and all manner of personal information can be accessed by others.

Of course, having said this, we are not calling on you to strictly avoid every free, openly accessible WLAN hotspot as of now. With a little preparation, you can stop worrying about attackers hiding behind these access – like this, for instance:

1 Common Sense

Two hotspots have the same name? Suspicious! Why should a provider offer two access points with the same SSID? There is no answer to that – because the second access point originates from persons who temporarily provide the hotspot so that unsuspecting users connect to it. The result is stolen data, and the user never notices.

2 Technical aids

Try to use SSL encrypted websites (URL begins with HTTPS instead of HTTP). Many browsers now also mark these URLs with a green lock. In addition, devices should obviously be secured with a password, and your laptop firewall should also always be switched on. This already protects you against most external attackers. The deletion of browser data (cache, cookies, saved forms) is also important.

3 VPN solutions for more security

You are on the safe side, if you use a VPN service to access internet. Encrypted data streams and redirecting connections over a server make an attack on your device virtually impossible. Most VPN providers require payment for this service – but this might, in some cases, be a good investment. Free alternatives may however be sufficient for a holiday.

With these simple tricks, you will have already sidelined the majority of the hazards relating to unsecured WLAN hotspots. Let’s take a look at how to behave in an exemplary manner when using external computers.

Using other devices

If you log into the internet via WLAN hotspots in internet cafés or over hotel computers, you should always log out of everything when you’ve finished, delete all cookies, delete the browsing history and so on. Before you get started, it is also advisable to look at the current anti-virus solution. Malicious software, lurking in the background, can otherwise cause your precautions to have little or no effect, because your data is transmitted via the malware anyway. Of course, the safest method is and remains to stay offline when you’re out and about. And this is sometimes not such a bad idea when you’re on holiday.

 

 

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Julia Nitsch

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