Tips & Advice

Secure International Internet Usage

Presented by Larry Larsen, Director of Cyber Security, Apple FCU

Traveling internationally can present unique problems when it comes to Internet usage.  Many foreign countries have Internet providers and infrastructures that are not as stable or secure as those we are used to at home, making it easier for criminals and hackers to see your devices and data when you connect overseas. 

There’s an easy and inexpensive tool you can use to protect yourself and your family in these circumstances.  A personal Virtual Private Network (VPN) can protect your data and personal information when you are connected to the Internet, and can also be used at home or anywhere else you choose to travel. 

VPNs protect your information by creating an encrypted “tunnel” that your data travels through between your computer and the websites you visit, and in many cases can be set up to connect to the Internet via a hub in the United States instead of the foreign country in which you may be traveling.  This allows you to safely connect to Apple Federal Credit Union from parts of the world that may be otherwise blocked due to security concerns: if you set your VPN to connect through New York, Apple’s website sees you coming from New York, not the country you are in.

It also protects you when you’re just checking email, looking for information on the country you’re visiting, and making online purchases while you’re there.  Tourist hotspots can also be crime hotspots, on the Internet as well as on the street.

Personal VPNs can be downloaded and installed easily for popular laptops and mobile devices, and are typically priced very reasonably, often well under $100 a year.  Since they protect your personal and financial information from prying eyes when you travel, that’s a small price to pay to keep cyber criminals out of your life.

The consumer website “The Best VPN” at https://thebestvpn.com/ keeps track of available VPN services and ranks them based on performance and price.  Choose the best one for your planned use and your budget, install it before you travel, and spend some time getting familiar with how it works before you start using it.  Many of the VPNs available can be set to automatically turn on when you fire up your browser; that’s the safest, easiest way to do it.

A private VPN is only necessary when you are traveling outside the United States; you don’t need one to access our website or mobile app while inside the U.S., but you can certainly use one when traveling across our own country.  It can protect you in non-secure hotel, restaurant, and airport Wi-Fi networks, too.

I use a personal VPN on my tablet and my smartphone, and wouldn’t use them outside of home or work without one.  Check out what’s available, install the best VPN for you on all your mobile devices, and you will be able to connect securely to any website from anywhere in the world.

More on Fraud Prevention & Safety >>