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Smartphone security

I am torn on what to do here, as I thougth I would just add an international plan while we travel to Bosnia, Croatia and Slovenia because every time we cross a border we will be on roaming anyhow. But I have family(they are conspiracy theorists and never know how much to listen to them) who is telling me to use a non data phone and buy a SIM card there. I was wondering if there was a way of locking the phone down so that we can check email and post pictures when we have a WiFi connection and be able to call our accomodations along the way so that they know when to expect us.
Was also thinking of taking a non data plan iPad so that we can watch movies on the plane and manage our photos along the way.

Posted by
500 posts

If you have an iPhone, in the preferences / cellular panel you can turn data roaming off. If so, the phone goes on receiving and calling voice, but it does not connect to the internet via your data plan while you are abroad. It can connect via wifi if you set up a connection on the preferences / wifi panel.

If you put the iPhone in airplane mode, it does not connect in any way and you cannot use the phone, you still can use it to listen music, watch video, play games.

Posted by
9 posts

I know how to use all of those features, it is the security when you are on a wifi connection that I am asking about here. I have been told by questionnable sources that people can hack your phone/ipad by just being in the area. I would suspect that wifi overseas is not less secure than ours in the states.

Posted by
2393 posts

It can be hacked anywhere - here or there. So worry about it over there as much as you do here.

Posted by
32101 posts

I doubt that Wi-Fi hacking takes place as often as "conspiracy theorists" would have us believe, although I'm sure it does happen occasionally. The same problem could exist with those accessing Wi-Fi using a Netbook, Laptop or iPad. The greater majority of hotels I've used have always required a password to access Wi-Fi, so people outside the hotel won't be able to easily connect to it. If you won't require cellular data roaming, be sure to switch "off" the cellular roaming so you don't accrue charges for that.

Posted by
31 posts

I'll repost my 5/11/2014 post in another thread here:
Adding that today's cellular connections are encrypted and cannot be "sniffed" or listened in on. You are right, it's the wi-fi that you want to protect - with a VPN. When we went in April 2014, we only used hotspot shield and had no problems. However, we had FAST tablets with quad-core processors, (Kindle Fire HDX, Nexus 7 2013 FHD) so if the VPN adds slowness, we didn't notice. I don't know whether it will or won't slow your response time so test it in the USA first.

5/11/2014 post below:

Any wi-fi, Europe or USA has the insecurity of being "sniffed" by anyone within range. They could be in a hotel room a few floors away across the street or sitting next to you. This has been known for a number of years.
As one poster said. Don't do anything on wi-fi that uses sensitive passwords that you wouldn't want stolen. Don't make online purchases, log in to any financial accounts, etc. That's it!

But what if your DO need to log in to those things?
Then as another poster said, you can use a cellular connection which is much more encrypted and secure than wi-fi, but slower and more expensive.

But what if you DO need to log in to those things using wi-fi?

There are cheap solutions.
On our last trip, my wife and I used hotspotshield.

It's an inexpensive app you activate just after you connect to the wi-fi hotspot but BEFORE you log in to the sensitive account. It's known as a VPN or "tunnel" in the trade. It worked well for us.

Another company, vipervpn has more egress points internationally and a few extra features.

Posted by
507 posts

I will not be unlocking my AT&T cell phone as I said in an earlier (now deleted) post. This is my plan for making calls. My AT&T phone will be put on Vacation Hold & use the company below for cell phone coverage in Europe

EuroBuzz is a SIM card/cell phone plan I am going with on my 2015 trip. The company's SIM card will work all over Europe. These are the features as I understand them.
You are chg'd 79 cents per min on phone calls & 79 cents per outgoing text. Incoming texts are free. No roaming fees!
You are given a USA phone number so you can be reached by ppl in the States AS WELL AS a European phone number. Those #'s are yours to keep for future trips.m
OPTION 1 - SIM cards cost $9.
OPTION 2 - cell phones You can purchase 1 cell phone (ready to go when you land in Europe) for $29; 2 for $39 at this time from Eurobuzz. When you come home, put the phones away until your next trip.
Here is the most recent review I have seen on the forums & the recommendations go back to 2010.
Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
04/19/14 06:15 PM
3666 posts
We really like our EuroBuzz phones and service. They worked very well (and as advertised). Great battery time.
I haven't used the phones in two years, but when the expiration date on my credit card was expiring recently, EuroBuzz sent me an email so I could send them the new expiration date - very helpful for me.
This is the same company as Mobal - Mobal is for worldwide usage, and EuroBuzz is for Europe, only. Just read the website for the information . . .
We made calls within Europe, to the USA, and texted each other - all calls, esp. to the USA, were very clear. Billing to our credit card was as expected, and showed up on the very next billing cycle.
We were very pleased with everything. Yes, with more effort you may spend a tad less with some other solution (depending on your current phone, where you're traveling to, etc.), but this was an effortless and inexpensive way to go for us. expensive phone stayed at home ;-)
Remember - you can't use this from the USA, but of course you can charge it at home before travel.
(Part of EuroBuzz email to me.)
If you've got any further questions about the EuroBuzz service then you can contact us by the following ways...
Read our FAQs at
Call customer services toll-free at 888-792-7647
Email customer services at
We hope you have a great trip whatever you decide,
The EuroBuzz team

P.S. Don't forget you get a 60-day money-back guarantee with EuroBuzz, so why don't you try it yourself first, and then decided whether you want to keep it?

Posted by
3 posts

Yes the GF is one of the better vpn
easy to use and to get