China is a huge market. Until COVID-19 arrived, China had been receiving an annual footfall of more than 1.4 million visitors a year. However, not many people know that your single visit to China can threaten all your devices and even hamper your business through electronic snooping in the name of accelerating economic growth and development of the country.
Several visitors to China have reported numerous incidents in which customs officials have tampered with their devices. They have also noticed signs that their emails and other internet activities have been subjected to surveillance. In fact, several reports also indicate that people have noticed spyware on their devices after returning from China.
Such activities can only leave your personal data on surveillance for the rest of your lives unless you take some important measures to protect your online activities and privacy of your data.
5 Data Security Measures to Take While Traveling to China
Though, Chinese government denies of their engagement in cyber espionage, it is still better to protect yourself, in case anything of this sort happens. Here are 5 tips to secure your data and activities while traveling to China –
1. Get an Antivirus
Before you leave for China, protect all your devices, such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones with a powerful antivirus that can protect you from random cyberthreats as well as spyware that the Chinese government may leave in your device through public Wi-Fi.
Several good quality antivirus providers have identity theft protection. This is a feature that keeps a check on the internet as well as on the dark web for any data breaches. It notifies you as soon as it detects any malware or spyware on your system. They even have webcam and microphone protection features that make it nearly impossible for anyone to snoop into your audio or video calls.
2. Prepare your Devices
Check all your devices for any pending updates. When you have up-to-date apps and operating system, numerous vulnerabilities and problems get fixed, leaving less room for snooping and spying.
Additionally, leave all your Bluetooth accessories like earpieces and keyboards at home and even turn off Bluetooth of all your devices for better security. This is because a device’s on Bluetooth can enable eavesdropping and snooping quite easily, Moreover, lock all your devices with a lock code, PIN or password so no one can easily get into them.
3. Physical Vigilance
There have been reports where customs officials have taken travelers’ devices without them in a backroom and loaded them with spyware or copied their information onto another device for monitoring. In case you encounter any such situation, express your disagreement to the officials politely, yet firmly.
Moreover, you also don’t want your devices to be mishandled by anyone when you leave them in your hotel room or unattended at a public place, such as in a cafe while using a restroom. Make sure your laptop, tablet, and smartphone are all in your sight at all times.
4. Format your Devices When you Return
Even after you take all the precautions, chances are that your devices might still be under surveillance by the Chinese government. Hence, it’s essential you format them when you return from China. If possible, you should even dispose off the SIM card that you used in the country.
5. Use a VPN
The best way to protect your security and privacy while traveling to China is by using the best VPN for China. It provides you with adequate protection for your device and data and helps you access the internet safely without any electronic snooping by an individual, a company, or even a government.
However, it is important that you download the VPN apps on your devices before landing in China. This is because, you might not find their apps on Apple Store while trying to access them from the country. In addition to it, you might not even find the Google Play Store anymore because they even ban certain Google Apps.
What is a VPN?
A VPN is an internet security tool that encrypts the web traffic that travels to and fro between your device and the remote server that you choose. This encryption makes you anonymous over the internet, hiding all your internet activities from anyone who tries to snoop in.
Based on the location of this remote VPN server, your virtual location is decided. Thus, irrespective of where you are actually located, you can appear to be located in any country across the world whose server you connect to.
Hence, when you are traveling to China, you can connect to a server in your home country to appear to be located there. This will not only trick the Chinese government by not being able to track your actual location, but will also let you access websites and apps that are otherwise banned in the country.
Benefits of Using a VPN in China
Apart from security and privacy, which is the main objective of a VPN, you get several added benefits with a VPN.
- Access geo-restricted websites – China bans several commonly used websites and apps such as WhatsApp, Google, YouTube, Instagram, Wikipedia, Dropbox, and many more. People in most parts of the world use these apps and websites numerous times on a daily basis. Thus, it is practically impossible to live without them while traveling to a country. So a VPN can easily change your virtual location and help you access these websites easily.
- Access bank accounts – As a safety protocol, if anyone accesses your bank accounts through internet banking from outside your country, your account gets freezed. So, if you access your bank accounts from China, they may get frozen automatically, leaving you without money in a foreign land. Thus, you should either inform your bank about your traveling plans or use a VPN to appear to be located in your home country to seamlessly access your bank account.
- Watch geo-blocked content – This benefit is for anyone who uses a VPN across the globe, even if you are not traveling. Most streaming services have different content libraries in different countries. Therefore, to watch your favorite content, you can easily use a reliable VPN to pretend to be located in a country where your favorite movie or show is available.
- Security and privacy – It’s not only about government censorship. Cyber predators are there in every nook and corner of the world and so are in China. With your internet activities being guarded by a strong VPN, none of the cyber criminals will be able to harm you in any way.
China is a non-privacy-friendly nation. Hence, it’s important that you protect your privacy before going to China by using a powerful antivirus and a VPN. Additionally, you should always keep an eye on all your devices so none of them fall prey to the cyber espionage.