Internet at sea: It’s not just the price to worry about

When we think of using the Internet on a cruise the first word that usually comes to mind is “price.” Using the Internet can be expensive on board cruise ships. But of equal or greater concern should be security. Identity thieves are everywhere, even at sea, waiting for us to slip up and give them the opportunity to invade our privacy. Here are some tips for being secure using the Internet at sea.

Using your laptop
When using a wireless network on a cruise, first make sure you are actually using the ship’s network by asking a crew member for the specific names of the ship’s legitimate networks so you recognize them when you connect.

Anytime you enter a password, even for web mail or Face book through what appears to be the ship’s login screen, verify that you have a secure connection in the browser address bar. Look for https:// (the “s” is for secure) and the locked security padlock icon.

Better yet, change your password before leaving home to one just for the cruise. Your booking number is not a bad idea but not your cabin number where would-be thieves on board could find you later is not. Be sure to change back after you get home.

Internet Cafe computers
“If you’re using a computer in a ship’s Internet cafe, take extra care with your login and password information” says, a company specializing in digital security. They advise organizing for security protection before traveling, using one-time passwords, smart cards or USB tokens for added security.

Also, be sure there is virus software on those Internet cafe machines and that it works. Look for a familiar name like McAfee or Symantec and no red flags or alerts that something is wrong before using one of their machines.

Be sure to clear the “Remember My Passwords” check box if it appears and when you’re done with your Internet session, clear your browsing history at Internet Explorer/Tools/Internet Options/Delete Browsing History.

Oh, and about that pricey Internet package? You’ll probably have to just live with that. But for making cell phone calls, there’s a new plan from AT&T that can help with that. Called “Cruise Ship Passport“, the new plan for AT&T customers discounts rates at sea and offers 15 minutes of voice and 15 messages (text, picture or video) along with a reduced overage rate.

Flickr photo by Jose Goulao