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Is It Safe to Connect a Public Wi-Fi Abroad?

Sep 28,2023 | Tom

Free photo friends on social media

photo friends on social media

While we are traveling abroad, one of the most essential things is networking. If you are not prepared to buy your local SIM card or install an eSIM, you may feel like a fish out of water. While being jealous of watching local passers-by freely surfing the internet to check the online map and text their friends, you can do nothing but desperately look at your no-signal bar. But luckily, you finally find a public Wi-Fi to connect to the network...

While you are recklessly using this Wi-Fi for booking a hotel or ordering a takeaway, you are already caught in the "Wi-Fi trap" for stealing your personal information.

Pros and cons of using a public Wi-Fi

Well, public Wi-Fi does a lot to help us at times, but it is never too much to keep an eye on network security. Here are the pros and cons of using public Wi-Fi abroad:


  • Convenience

Public Wi-Fi networks are readily available in many locations, such as cafes, airports, hotels, and shopping centers, making it convenient to access the Internet while traveling.

  • Cost Savings

Using public Wi-Fi abroad can help you save on data roaming charges. Instead of relying on your cellular data plan, you can connect to Wi-Fi networks for free or at a lower cost.

  • Access to Information and Services

Public Wi-Fi allows you to access important information, such as maps, travel guides, and translation services, which can be helpful when navigating in a foreign country.

  • Communication

Wi-Fi enables you to stay connected with family, friends, or colleagues through messaging apps, email, and voice or video calls, without incurring additional charges.


  • Security Risks

Public Wi-Fi networks are often unsecured, making them susceptible to hacking and unauthorized data access. Attackers can potentially intercept your sensitive information, such as passwords, credit card details, and personal data.

  • Malware and Phishing Attacks

Connecting to public Wi-Fi networks exposes you to a higher risk of encountering malware or falling victim to phishing attacks, where attackers try to trick you into revealing personal information.

  • Lack of Privacy

Public Wi-Fi often lacks encryption, meaning that your online activities may be visible to others on the same network, compromising your privacy.

  • Unreliable Performance

Public Wi-Fi networks can be crowded, leading to slow internet speeds and unreliable connections, potentially affecting your ability to browse the web or use certain online services seamlessly.

  • Limited Network Access

Some countries may have restrictions or censorship on certain websites or services. Connecting to public Wi-Fi abroad may limit your access to certain content or platforms.

How to improve network security for travelers?

Photo in a cafe shop background a woman uses a laptop with a wifi icon social networking concept

Photo in a cafe shop background a woman uses a laptop with a wifi icon social networking concept

To mitigate the risks associated with using public Wi-Fi abroad, consider taking the following precautions:

  • Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network)

A VPN encrypts your internet connection, creating a secure tunnel between your device and the websites you visit. This helps protect your data from prying eyes and potential hackers.

  • Update and Secure Your Devices

Keep your devices updated with the latest software and security patches. Enable automatic updates to ensure you have the latest security features and bug fixes.

  • Disable Auto-Connect

Turn off the automatic connection feature on your devices to prevent them from connecting to unsecured public Wi-Fi networks automatically. This allows you to manually select and connect to trusted networks.

  • Be Wary of Network Names

Watch out for fake or suspicious Wi-Fi network names (also known as " evil twins"). Hackers may set up networks that appear legitimate but are designed to intercept your data. Verify the official network name with the establishment or use a trusted mobile hotspot instead.

  • Avoid Sensitive Activities

Avoid performing sensitive activities such as online banking, shopping, or entering personal information while connected to public Wi-Fi. Wait until you have a trusted and secure connection to perform such tasks.

  • Use HTTPS and SSL/TLS

Make sure websites you visit use HTTPS (secure) connections instead of HTTP. Look for the padlock symbol in the address bar, indicating that the connection is encrypted. Additionally, pay attention to SSL/TLS certificate warnings, as they can help detect potential security issues.

  • Use Mobile Data or Personal Hotspots

Consider using your mobile data plan or setting up a personal hotspot using your cellular connection instead of relying on public Wi-Fi. This provides a more secure and private connection. So it's of great importance to well plan your network solution before landing on the destination( buy an eSIM data plan for your eSIM-compatible device or go to the local premises for a local eSIM which is always available in the local airport shop or the like)

  • Be Suspicious of Pop-ups and Phishing Attempts

Watch out for suspicious pop-ups or requests for personal information while using public Wi-Fi. Be cautious of potential phishing attempts and avoid clicking on unfamiliar links or providing sensitive information to unknown sources.

By implementing these precautions, you can significantly reduce the risks associated with using public Wi-Fi abroad and help safeguard your personal information and online security.

Other Ways to be network-connected safely

Photo wifi icon on the modern city of the future wireless network connection hong kong abstract image

Photo wifi icon on the modern city of the future wireless network connection hong kong abstract image

Here are some ways to access a network abroad:

  • Pocket Wi-Fi (MiFi)

A pocket Wi-Fi device, also known as a mobile hotspot or MiFi, can provide a reliable and secure internet connection abroad. Pair the device with a local prepaid SIM card to enjoy fast download and upload speeds on multiple devices simultaneously. But, it's

  • International Roaming

If your mobile carrier offers international roaming services, you can use your existing data plan while traveling abroad. However, be aware that roaming charges can be expensive, so it's crucial to check roaming rates and consider purchasing a suitable data package from your mobile operator.

  • Mobile Data Packages

Some mobile network operators provide special data packages for international travelers. These packages offer a set amount of data for a fixed price and can be purchased before or during your trip.

  • Satellite Internet

In remote or less accessible areas where traditional internet options may not be available, satellite internet can be an option. Satellite providers offer portable satellite terminals that allow you to connect to the internet from virtually anywhere in the world, albeit at a higher cost.

  • Prepaid SIM Card

Purchasing a prepaid local SIM card in the destination country is a commonly used method. Simply swap your existing SIM card with the local one and activate a data plan that provides internet access, calling, and messaging services. Ensure that your phone is unlocked to use other SIM cards.

  • eSIM data plan

Switching to a local carrier and using an international eSIM or travel eSIM allows you to have a local data plan without the need for physical SIM cards. These eSIM profiles can be easily set up on compatible devices, offering flexibility and the ability to switch between different network providers for the best tariffs.

Compared with the other ways above, choosing an eSIM may be the most convenient and cost-effective method, cuz it can be installed and activated directly on your phone without any auxiliary equipment(Mi-Fi) or troublesome steps to frequently go to a local promise for a local SIM card in different countries. Moreover, you can customize your data plan on the eSIM online store according to your needs of data amounts and validity time with much less money(compared with international data roaming and Satellite Internet )

Note: [ *your device must be eSIM-compatible ](https://bytesim.com/pages/esim-compatible-devices)

It's essential to research and compare the options available in your specific destination before deciding on the best method for accessing a network abroad. Factors such as coverage, cost, and available data plans will vary based on the country you're visiting and your requirements.

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