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5 ways to securely access Wi-Fi on your phone while traveling

Have you ever wondered how to use your iPhone when you travel abroad? Do you know if your Wi-Fi is secure when you switch to 5G? Do you need to worry about hackers or identity thieves when you connect to public Wi-Fi networks?

These are some of the questions that many people have, including Debbie from Wilmington, North Carolina.

“When my Wi-Fi goes to 5G, is it protected on my iPhone? I will be going to Italy… for 16 days of vacation using a travel pass with Verizon. What is the best way to use the phone, using hotel Wi-Fi or my phone only?” — Debbie, Wilmington, NC

If you are traveling to a foreign country and want to stay connected with your loved ones or share your amazing experiences on social media, you should be aware of the best practices to protect your privacy and data online. Different countries have different laws and regulations for internet safety, which may affect your access and security.

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Am I still protected when I use 5G on my smartphone?

The safest way to use your smartphone is always to use a private Wi-Fi network. However, these are often not accessible to us when we’re traveling abroad or in a public space. When you’re not connected to Wi-Fi, your smartphone will typically switch over to a 5G network, which is a type of cellular network technology that allows your smartphone to continue surfing the web when you need to.

The issue is that 5G networks are not always the safest. If the network is using an older security protocol, such as WPA2 Personal, then your iPhone may be more vulnerable to an attack.

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So, what is the safest way to use my smartphone while I’m abroad?

There are a few steps that you can take when you go abroad that will protect your safety more than a 5G network might be able to. Here are my top 5 tips.

1. Use a VPN to stay private

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) helps protect your privacy and anonymity online. It does so by encrypting your internet traffic and routing it through a secure server. This means that advertisers and other third parties will find it much harder to track your website visits. It also hides your IP address, making it difficult for snoops to identify you while you’re browsing the internet. 

See my expert review of the best VPNs for browsing the web privately on your Windows, Mac, Android & iOS devices.

2. Use hotel Wi-Fi

If the hotel you’re staying in has a private and secure Wi-Fi network, then you’re better off using that than using your phone’s 5G network. If the hotel only has a public Wi-Fi network, then I would stay away from those public Wi-Fi options, as they are typically the most vulnerable to hackers. However, there are plenty of hotels around the world that have private networks that are only accessible to guests. Make sure you call your hotel ahead of time or ask about the Wi-Fi policy at the front desk once you get there.

Man ON PHONE

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3. Use a SIM card

You could also consider purchasing a local SIM card or using an international roaming plan from your carrier. 

Verizon offers a TravelPass option that allows you to use your existing plan while traveling internationally. Before you choose this option, make sure you read the pricing and terms carefully to prevent any surprises on your bill.

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4. Keep your software up to date

Make sure that the software on your smartphone is up to date before you travel abroad. Software updates often include security and bug fixes that will protect your device against malware, so you must have whatever the latest update is at all times.

Woman on plane

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How to check for software updates on an iPhone

  • Go to Settings
  • Click General
  • Select Software Update
  • If one is available, click Install.

How to check for software updates on an Android

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Settings may vary depending on your Android phone’s manufacturer.

  • Go to Settings
  • Tap System
  • Select System Update
  • If an update is available, follow the onscreen steps.

5. Have good antivirus software on your device

If you’re abroad and your phone does get infected with malware, antivirus software will be able to detect it and warn you. Having antivirus software on your devices will make sure you are stopped from clicking on any potential malicious links that may install malware on your devices, allowing hackers to gain access to your personal information. 

See my expert review of the best antivirus protection for your Windows, Mac, Android & iOS devices.

Kurt’s key takeaways

Ultimately, the best way to use your phone while traveling will depend on your specific needs and preferences. It’s important to consider factors such as cost, convenience, and security when deciding on a plan of action.

What other types of protection do you wish were available for your devices while traveling abroad? Let us know by writing us at Cyberguy.com/Contact.

For more of my tech tips and security alerts, subscribe to my free CyberGuy Report Newsletter by heading to Cyberguy.com/Newsletter.

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