Safer Internet Day: what you should remember when travelling

We love to be connected when we travel, but there are security steps everyone should take when using foreign networks, says UNSW Canberra Cyber Director Nigel Phair.


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Travellers who enjoy being part of a constantly connected society should be aware of the dangers when using publically accessible Wi-Fi, says UNSW Canberra Cyber Director Nigel Phair.

In a report published on Tuesday to coincide with global Safer Internet Day, Mr Phair outlines what travellers should be aware of before logging on.

“With nearly 27 million mobile handset subscribers (against a population of 25 million) in Australia, internet users love the idea of being constantly connected, particularly when they travel, whether that be posting on social media or staying in touch with the office,” Mr Phair said.

“Whilst a connected society should be encouraged, with the ability to always be online, there are some things internet users need to consider when connecting via an unknown wi-fi source to stay safe online.”

Ninety-nine per cent of Australian hotels offer WiFi to guests and most don’t charge for basic access. However, hotel Wi-Fi is designed for easy access and guest devices are connecting to insecure, non-encrypted Wi-Fi networks.

“Hotels, particularly via their Wi-Fi networks, have long been a successful avenue for cyber criminals as state-sponsored hackers take a keen interest in the sector to catch high-value targets that may inadvertently stray into unprotected networks,” Mr Phair said.

Safer Internet Day is an annual worldwide event celebrated in 130 countries. This year’s theme ‘Together for a better internet’ encourages individuals to create a better internet by developing four critical skills: respect, responsibility, reasoning and resilience.

There are some simple steps travellers can take to better protect their information when using public Wi-Fi, including installing anti-virus software and updates to their devices’ operating systems, as well as using a virtual private network (VPN).

Mr Phair said hotels should ensure fast, reliable and secure connections with up-to-date firewalls, anti-virus protection and patching.

“Strong consumer demand for communications services will continue well into the future, driven by new digital services and technological innovations.”

“This is great news for Australian travellers, however they need to be wary when connecting to unsecure Wi-Fi networks,” said Mr Phair.

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