Staycations are back in a big way this year. The pandemic has thrown overseas holidays out the window and many in the US are forgoing longer national trips. Instead, they are limiting themselves to trips that can keep them closer to home. Washingtonians might head toward the soft sands of the Chesapeake Bay and those in Minneapolis will surely take advantage of the cool water of Lake Superior.
Whatever the destination, there are some cool technology ‘musts’ that will save you money keep you safe and save you money.
You’re Being Tracked
Websites often display prices based on your personal profile. If you’ve ever searched for a hotel room (or airline ticket), you probably noticed that after a few searches the prices actually go up. This is a trick to urge you to make a premature purchase. Tracking, often through cookies, is incredibly detailed and takes into account your movements across different sites, the search terms you use, and even how long you stay on a web page. An IP address helps websites detect your geo-location so prices can be based on the location. If you give your permission, websites can also track your location using your Wi-Fi. Your mobile device with GPS turned on can also help retailers determine your location and subsequently adjust the price.
Wi-Fi While On The Move
If you are taking a road trip and stop at Starbucks, McDonald’s, and service stations along the way, you’ll likely make use of the free Wi-Fi while taking a break. Unfortunately, free Wi-Fi hotspots are notoriously easy for hackers to access because they don’t require user authentication to establish a connection so a hacker can position himself between you and the Wi-Fi connection point. Instead of talking directly with the hotspot, you’re potentially sending your credit card information, security credentials and important emails directly to the hacker.
Hackers can also use an unsecured Wi-Fi connection to distribute malware. If you allow file-sharing across a network, the hacker can easily plant infected software on your computer. Some hackers have also hacked the connection point itself to install malware.
How to Stay Safe
A virtual private network (VPN) is the simplest and fastest way to protect yourself. By using a VPN your IP address is masked. While websites can still track your movements across the site, they have no idea who you are or where you’re located. Without this information, they can’t set the price based on your location or search history. With a VPN, you have a better chance of striking a deal when renting a car, booking a hotel room or scheduling a popular leisure activity like water skiing. A VPN also keeps you safe from malicious activity by encrypting your data. It provides an encrypted tunnel through which your data securely travels when you access a website or online services such as banking and shopping.
Many people may think VPNs are difficult to set up or use. However, a VPN can save you money while ensuring your staycation won’t be interrupted by annoying cybersecurity slip-ups. In fact, once you’ve used a VPN you’ll never look back, and rarely will you venture onto the internet without using it. A VPN is that simple and effective.