Online security and privacy when traveling – and GIVEAWAY

Do you protect your online presence when traveling – and at home? Many people connect to public and open WiFi without considering or knowing anything about the risks involved! Now you have the chance to learn WHY you should protect your online devices, and you can WIN a FREE year of the Freedome VPN service from F-secure!

As a travel blogger, I am often keen to share some moments on social media on the road or send a message to family and friends.  I am attracted like a magnet to the “free WiFi” signboards on cafés, restaurants, airports and hotels. Even people who are not working on the road are quite eager to get online as soon as they spot available WiFi.

Many of us like to share instant moments on social media and connects to public WiFi on cafés, hotels and other public spaces without knowing about the risk involved.


Recently a friend told me how easily he could get to my information by setting up a “fake” network in a café or a restaurant, to steal information from people who connected to his network instead of the “real” network they thought they connected to. I started reading more about online security, and I also got in touch with F-Secure to test their Freedome VPN service.

What is the worst thing that can happen, you say?

When connected to a public network, you are connecting without knowing who else could be on that network. That is a potential threat.

The features of free WiFi hotspots are not only desirable for consumers, but also for hackers. Most free public networks require no authentication to connect, and if they are protected by a password – this is easily accessible. This creates an opportunity for hackers to get access to unsecured devices on the same network – and it may be yours!

One of the big threats is the “middle-man” attack, where a hacker direct your traffic through a device they control  to get access to the information you send out through your connection; plain text passwords, unsecured email, your Google searches and the websites you access. If they know their stuff, your passwords for your social accounts and email may be stolen. A hacker might also target your device directly to install malware, for later to access saved information from your device.

I have the best antivirus installed – so I´m safe, right?

Having a good antivirus installed on your computer, and using security apps for your phone is of course always a good choice. However, even with these installed and up to date, information is flowing to and from your device – all open, and  accessible to people who know how to intercept information from other users of the same network.

Another way to hack people is to go to a public space with a wifi hotspot, leave it open or impersonate an already existing network, and simply wait for someone to connect

Online privacy – another reason to protect your online presence

Every time you go online, your actions are tracked by different cookies and other trackers. The thought behind these trackers is to build a “profile” of you, to better understand who you are, where you are and what you do. That means that some companies, like for instance Google, other search engines or services you often use, has a lot of information about you and your online habits!

Every time you go inline, your actions are tracked by different cookies and other trackers.


It is not only your searches and the websites you visit which is tracked, but also your location if you allow it. More and more applications, like map services, gives you a better experience if they know your location, and it is easy to use “my location” for several services. However, that also means that your location is tracked and saved. Here is a video by F-Secure on protecting your online presence.

So – how can we actually protect our privacy and security online?

Using a VPN service, you can both encrypt all your traffic to and from your device, and you can also take control of your location if

What is a VPN and how does it protect you?

Using a VPN service, your internet traffic is encrypted, and it creates a secure tunnel between your device and the secure server provided by the VPN company, and then those servers forward you on to the open internet.

Since your traffic to and from your device is now encrypted, you are protected from fellow users of the open Wi-fi network to be able to access any of your data. When you go online through a VPN service, your IP address will also be hidden, as the VPN service uses its own IP address, hiding yours. If you are in Oslo surfing via VPN through one of their servers in Berlin, then you will appear to be in Berlin because your IP address is set to this server in Berlin.

A VPN service will normally have different servers around the world that you can connect to,  allowing you to effectively spoof your location.

So I will be totally anonymous online, right?

No, you will not. You will, however, increase your privacy considerably. Anonymity and privacy are not the same!

Anonymity is defined as “not being named or identified”. When you are online, you are not anonymous even when using privacy tools, as every service will have at least one piece of information that can be used to distinguish different users. Security companies are protective about their logs, and some do not store their logs, so you should not worry about being identified – you should just know that you are not totally anonymous as long as there are any logs.

Using a VPN service, your privacy is very well taken care of online, and you are also safe using an encrypted tunnel, going through a secure server when you are online.

Testing Freedome VPN service

In collaboration with F-Secure, I have been testing their VPN service Freedome the two last months.

I have tested the service in Oslo, on my 10 days journey in Northern Norway and during my bicycle trip along the West coast of Sweden. I have been connected to a range of different WiFis in different locations, both through my Android phone and my laptop.

What does Freedome offer you?

First of all, I want to mention that the service is delivered by a reliable provider. F-secure has been in the market of online security since 1988. It is a Finnish company, with offices in more than 25 locations around the globe. What you get:

  • Complete privacy. Trackers, advertisers or even your internet service provider can´t see what you do online.
  • Safe surfing. Your own private VPN tunnel blocks hackers, malicious sites, and bad apps.
  • Wi-Fi security. Even on unsecured public Wi-Fi, your traffic is encrypted and impossible to intercept.
  • Access blocked content. You can change your virtual location and you can access content available only in certain locations.

My experience

Freedome is intuitive and easy to use. While installing it, I was not in doubt once of what was the next step. You turn Freedome on or off through a single button, and it is easy to understand how to change your virtual location. 

On my Android phone, there is a key in the upper left corner of the screen when Freedome is active and protecting my device, never leaving me in doubt if my connection is secure or not.

Screenshot of the Freedome features on my laptop.

Screenshot of the Freedome features on my laptop.

Screenshots of the features of Freedome on my Andoird phone. The key in the upper left corner shows me that my connection is secure.

Screenshots of the features of Freedome on my Android phone. The key in the upper left corner shows me that my connection is secure.

Does it affect the speed of my internet connection?

It is known that VPN comes with a performance penalty. I have been using Freedome anytime I connected to a public WiFi for the two last months. I have not experienced my phone nor my computer as noticeable slower than usual (I have not tested the service on any super fast connections, but on my home network for testing purposes, work network and random public networks the speed reduction has not been noticeable for me).

The performance of the VPN service will depend on your location, the location of the server you connect to, and also the infrastructure in between.

Any cons?

The only con I have been able to see is that they do not offer protections for Chrome OS. However, as Chromebooks will soon support Android apps, you should be able to protect your Chromebook through the same app used for Android devices.

On my phone, I also noticed that the battery life was slightly shorter than usual when the app was running all the time. It was easily solved by turning off Freedome when I was not connected to Wifi, you easily turn it on and off with one touch.

Am I satisfied?

Yes, I am. I feel Freedome is a reliable service, it has never turned off unexpectedly, and I have not faced any issues using it. When I have been spoofing my location, the location showed on IP lookups have been correctly identified according to the location I connected to.

I will continue using the Freedome VPN service to stay safe whenever I use public WiFi, both when going to my local corner coffee shop and when traveling and relying on WiFi along the road to get my work done.

 

WIN your FREE subscription of Freedome VPN

Would you like an entire year of online security for FREE? I will draw THREE lucky winners July 23rd!

All you have to do is to leave a comment on this article using either the blog comment field or the Facebook comment field.

You can make it simple and just comment that YOU want to be the lucky winner of one year free service of Freedome VPN from F-Secure,  you can share what is your biggest fear of being unprotected online when you connect to a public Wifi network, or what is the most important feature of a VPN service for you (Note: take it easy, your comment will be visible as soon as it is approved, unless you post spam!).

Remember to use an email you check regularly when leaving the comment, and be rest assured that no-one else will see your email address, and it will never be used for anything else than to contact you IF you win one of the subscriptions.

Winners will be contacted by email, and this article will be updated to list the winners right here!

Get 25% OFF Freedome VPN

If you don’t bet on your luck of winning the free service, you can get 25% off buying one of the Freedome VPN services from F-Secure.

Take a look at their package prices here, and use the discount code TRAVEL25 on checkout to get 25% off your purchase!

You can also download the app/program and try for free for 14 days before you decide to buy it or not.

 

This article is sponsored by F-Secure. I personally tested the Freedome VPN service, and all opinions about the product are my own.

 

About the Author Elin

I´m an Oslo based web publisher with passion for communication, travel and a green lifestyle. When I travel, I prefer to go slow, sustainable, and “live like a local”. Why slow? It is about challenging the cult of speed, and to enjoy the small things in life and to live in the present.

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