Secure your data while traveling!

Today’s attackers are vigilant in tracking how, where and when you access Wi-Fi networks. Uncovering weak points in a public Wi-Fi location is their specialty when seeking out vulnerabilities. Professional hackers target universities because of these typical user behaviors, which make it easier to obtain sensitive information:

  • Students, faculty and staff use free, public Wi-Fi hotspots frequently to access institutional emails, documents, and system data.
  • Campus employees email work documents to and from their personal accounts, despite the numerous security problems.
  • Campus employees use free charging stations at airports and other public places, which pose the risk of transferring viruses and malware.

On the go

While traveling, you might find yourself with no option other than to use public Wi-Fi. So, before you begin your travel, take precautions to secure your personal information:

  • Set up a virtual virtual private network (VPN) service before you start packing that suitcase.
    • When off-campus, NC State students, faculty and staff can securely connect to the mapped drives and other resources they use on campus with NC State’s VPN using Cisco AnyConnect.
    • See also The Best VPN Services site that weighs the pros and con of VPNs.
    • Make sure you download the VPN on your phone, tablet and computer before leaving home. The VPN will encrypt your sessions on public Wi-Fi and secure your information.
    • For assistance with getting a VPN, contact your local IT group or send email to
  • Connect to the Internet over a Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) network. If you connect to public Wi-Fi without a VPN, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to hackers. If you see two or more Wi-Fi networks with similar names, at least one of them could be a hacker in disguise, so be cautious. Currently, the most secure way to connect to the Internet is over a WPA2 network that requires a unique password.
  • Review your two-factor authentication (2FA) methods to secure your data when traveling and accessing the Internet.
    • When traveling, you may have difficulty accessing cell networks or have limited Wi-Fi access. Be sure to enroll in additional authentication methods for Google 2-Step and Duo that do not rely on data; you can use an authenticator app or go phone-less by using a U2F security key or printed backup codes. Don’t get stuck by relying on only one method.
    • If you have any questions or need help to set up two-factor methods for your NC State account:
      • Contact the NC State Help Desk at or 919.515.4357 (HELP).
      • Visit the Walk-in Center in the West Dunn Building at the intersection of Thurman Drive and Dan Allen Drive.

To protect your personal data, visit Two Factor Auth (2FA) to view other websites, including social media sites, that support 2FA.