It’s vacation time! Time for travel, leisure, and a break from the daily web surfining and emails…
A break? To some extent, we all need an occasional break from our Internet use, expecially if we tend to get immersed in it regularly.
However, a complete break, a complete hiatus, is difficult for most people. If you need to monitor emails for work, then it’s going to be impossible.
So, when you travel, what can you do?
If you’re staying in a hotel, many of them have a computer (or two) and printer in a room they call a business center. Whether they charge for its use, or make it available for free, that’s one option.
You should realize, though, that it’s not a particularly secure one. Someone may have accidentally or intentionally installed key-logging software or screen-logging software on the computer. Someone may even have installed a hardware keylogger on the computer.
Be wary of using a common-area computer to access your personal or office email or other systems.
Many hotels also offer wired or wireless networking for you to use with your own notebook computer.
Be sure you have your firewall program installed, up-to-date, and turned on. Be sure your antivirus program and antispyware/antimalware programs are installed, up-to-date and turned on.
If you use the hotel’s wired networking, you will have better security than if you use wireless — the hotel wireless systems are seldomly encrypted or otherwise secured while broadcasting (you may have to sign in with your room number, but that’s not the same thing). The issue is that anything you send wirelessly or that comes to you via the hotel’s wireless system may be monitored by someone else, too.
In today’s world, wired "hubs" (which are less secure because they send all data packets to all the computers connected to the) are seldomly used. "Switches" are the wired networking tool of choice today because they send the data only to the specific computer to which it is intended to be sent. (Bear in mind that someone with access to the switch could still set up their own interception system.)
If you still want to use wireless with your notebook, as long as the hotel offers wired access, consider taking your wireless router along with you. You could connect it to the hotel’s wired Ethernet system and then work with your wireless router. Of course, you should have your router properly secured.
You could also access the Internet for surfing and email by using a dialup connection. I know it’s been a long time for most of us, but NetZero has a NetZero free dialup service option that can give you up to 10 hours per month for free. It’s great for travel or for backup for a cable Internet connection — if the power goes off, the phone land-line usually has power.
You might have a separate wireless internet service via your cellphone company &mdassh; or it may be available via connecting your cellphone to your computer (called "tethering" your cellphone to the computer).
If you choose to tether your cellphone to your computer and use it’s connection, be sure you understand how much it will cost you. AT&T, for example, currently charges $0.01 per KB ($10.00 per megabyte!) if you tether your cellphone to your computer.