Category: Blog

Protecting your privacy and security on the road

The world is opening up and summer is here. It’s time to travel again! But before you jump on a plane or fill up your tank for a road trip, consider your tech privacy and security while traveling.

Prying eyes would love to get into your laptop or phone. Here are some tips to make sure you stay safe and secure while traveling.

padlock on a laptop screen

Get a privacy screen

The person in the middle seat next to you on the plane is working on a confidential presentation or reviewing confidential financials, seemingly oblivious to their two seatmates. You shake your head, wondering how they can be so careless. Yet, what do you do to protect your screen in a similar situation?

An inexpensive physical solution is a privacy screen. Laptop and mobile device privacy screens make it possible for you to see the screen when looking straight at it but blur out the screen for anyone viewing at an angle, like the person sitting in the seat next to you on the plane or at a conference.

Privacy screens require you to install adhesive tabs to slide the screen into, or the screen has a reusable adhesive, kind of like sticking a Post-It note on your screen.

There are also high-tech solutions to “shoulder surfing”. Dell recently introduced laptops that use the webcam to look for anyone peeking over your shoulder and if someone is detected, the computer blurs out the screen.

Block your webcam

You should block your webcam from unauthorized viewing, whether you’re traveling or not. It’s especially important when you travel because you’re probably using less-safe networks, which gives people a better chance to hack into your webcam.

There are a couple of ways to block your webcam from potential hackers.

Some computers come with a physical webcam blocker installed. You can just slide it to the side when you aren’t using your webcam. If your computer didn’t come with one, for just a few dollars you can buy blockers that stick on your laptop. And if you want to go even cheaper, just stick a Post-It or tape over your webcam when not in use. Even Mark Zuckerberg does that.

Chicken on laptop using WiFi

Be wary of public WiFi networks

Surfing the web over public WiFi opens you up to lots of possible intrusions. Few of these networks are truly secure, even if they require you to log in or use a password. This goes for hotel networks, networks at vacation rentals or airport lounges, etc.

There are two things you can do to protect yourself here. First, consider using your mobile phone’s hotspot instead of public networks.

Second, use a VPN. A VPN encrypts the data you’re sending over the Internet, making it less likely to be compromised.

Using a VPN is critical on public WiFi, but you should also consider using one if you connect through your phone’s hotspot.

Oh, and using a public computer to log into a sensitive account is a big no-no. Shared computers at Internet cafes and libraries should only be used in emergencies.

Think before you browse

Any time you log into a website, you’re opening yourself up to risk. Your device could have a keylogger or another system could capture your login details.

For this reason, ask yourself, “Do I really need to log into this website while traveling?”

There are times you need to log into your bank account and other sensitive sites while traveling. But it’s safer to do that on your home network, so see if you can delay until you return home. Also, consider accessing these accounts through your phone rather than a laptop if it means you’ll connect over the cellular network’s Internet.

Watch out for hostile governments

Neighbors and hackers trying to steal your information are one thing, but you might also have to watch out for government snooping.

Some countries are known for snooping through whatever they can get their hands on while traveling. Some people will be bigger targets than others for this kind of espionage, but everyone should take precautions.

If you’re traveling to a country known for snooping, consider leaving your main computer and phone at home. Bring “clean” devices that do not contain private information. And don’t log into any sensitive websites while on the Internet in these countries.

If you use the 1Password password manager, activate travel mode when you’re crossing borders. This will hide your password vaults from inspectors.

laptop in a safe

Lock up your tech or bring it with you

In an ideal world, you can bring your technology with you and not leave it out of sight. This is easy with a cell phone, but lugging around a laptop might not be possible.

If you must leave your technology in the hotel room, be sure to lock it in the hotel’s safe. This won’t necessarily keep it safe; hostile governments and hotel employees could still gain access to it. But it will make it harder for them and petty criminals alike.

Update your technology

There’s a constant game of cat and mouse between hackers and software companies. Hackers find a bug and try to exploit it before the companies patch their technology.

If you want to be scared into taking security precautions, read Nicole Peroth’s book This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends. It explains how hackers sell exploits to governments and other people who are up to no good.

Companies like Apple rush to patch iOS, and browser companies push out fixes when they learn about exploits. But they’re only helpful if you’re running the latest software version.

So before you travel, make sure to check for software updates on your phone, browser, and any other software you use.

Oh, and it wouldn’t hurt to back up your device before traveling.

Watch where you charge your phone

When your phone’s charger goes into the red zone, you probably rush to find the nearest charger.

But hold on for a second. Plugging into a shared USB charger can be a mistake. In addition to charging your phone, it could steal the data off of it.

This goes for that charger block in your hotel room, too. It’s convenient that hotels are starting to offer USB-charging devices, but you don’t know if someone has installed malicious hardware on one of these devices to slurp up your data.

instead, bring your own charger with an AC adapter that plugs directly into an outlet, and only use ones you provide yourself.

Eye spy a camera

Cameras are becoming cheaper and more ubiquitous. Doorbells have cameras. Security lights have cameras. For under $50, anyone can install a camera and start recording people without their knowledge.

This has become a problem in vacation rental properties. When you check into your rental, take a look around and see if there are cameras in private areas. While a camera on the outside of a property is no big deal, some vacation rental homeowners have installed these indoor areas where you might feel a sense of privacy.

Be smart and be safe

Staying safe and protecting your private information while traveling doesn’t need to be a huge burden. Once you set up best practices, such as using a VPN, it’s relatively easy to replicate these on your next trip.

So take an hour or two to set up a traveling game plan. It will give you peace of mind.


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wpadmin July 6, 2022 0 Comments

Softy: How to Conquer a Niche and Scale a Business

Diana Berulytė is the co-founder of Softy, a luxury homeware brand that began as a side hustle and has since grown into a fully-fledged eCommerce business. In late 2018, she was on maternity leave thinking about the day she would have to go back to work when she made the business decision that would change her life. “We launched our first online store in 2019 and grew little by little. Now we have multiple warehouses in Vilnius, and I never went back to my old job.”

Like all good business ideas, Softy started small and set out to provide the answer to one simple problem: finding high-quality fabrics at affordable prices. For Diana, it was a decision based on everyday life. “I just wanted to buy some towels. I went to stores like Senukai and Ikea and the prices were just ridiculous for the quality.” So, with the end of maternity leave on the horizon, she and her husband decided to start out on their own with one idea in mind. “Well, let’s do it, let’s try to sell towels,” they said, and thus, Softy was born.

Supply & Demand

Having identified a niche, Diana focused on the core of the problem — supply. “We practically lived in Poland for about a month.” Valuable time spent wisely, the pair set about visiting as many manufacturers, importers, and suppliers as possible.

“That’s how we bought our first goods during that one month.” Diana and her husband had
opened up a little shop in Druskininkai, a quaint spa town in Southern Lithuania. A fitting
location for a traditional family-run store selling artisanal fabrics, but the couple quickly set theirs
sights on something bigger.

A selection of Softy's premium towels.

Diana enlisted her mother-in-law to manage the shop in Druskininkai and spent the next six months finding the best fabric suppliers around the world. “I know a little about fabrics and I tried to speak to people in the industry that I was hoping to work with. I started asking questions and found that a lot of businesses couldn’t even distinguish weaving methods and materials.”

At that point, Diana knew for sure that Softy had something different. “We really know what we are selling, we know how it’s made, and understand the whole weaving process. We know what makes certain fabrics good or bad, and what could happen if you choose the wrong supplier.”

Diana spoke to suppliers all the way from Pakistan to Portugal to make sure she could meet the demands of her customers and find the inventory to scale Softy with its first online store.

Scaling for Success

While the online store was growing steadily, Diana and her husband were looking for agile solutions to take Softy to the next level. “We always tried to play it safe with marketing. We tried not to annoy our customers, but it was just because we didn’t understand the process.”

It would take over two years of slow and steady business before the big change came. Diana reached out to an external marketing agency in November 2021, hoping to really level up. “First, they said we didn’t spend enough on marketing.” No surprises there. “They said we should triple our marketing budget at the bare minimum and it worked.”

Softy was Diana, her husband, and her mother-in-law – a three-person family business making a modest living. After consultation with external experts, their operations grew exponentially. “We went from a turnover of about €1,000 per month to €300,000 per year.”

Still, the division of labor remains the same as it always was: Diana runs the online store, her mother-in-law runs the shop in Druskininkai, and her husband handles all the marketing decisions.

Analytics and agile solutions have proven to be at the core of Softy’s success. “Every day, we check our ad analytics. Google Ads, Ads Manager, and Facebook Ads are our main channels, and we will tweak them through the day until we can see traffic patterns that we are happy with and use them to plan our next day.”

Once Diana and her husband could see how fast their business was growing, it became clear that they would need to upgrade their web hosting to deal with the demand.

Hosting for the Future

Softy’s rapid growth as a business meant that the online shop and the hosting providers were always in a constant state of flux. “We just kept outstripping the capabilities of other providers. They couldn’t keep up with us.”

A close-up of the embroidery on one of Softy's towels.

“We were getting really annoyed at how slow the website was running.” Diana felt like Softy was losing customers as a direct result of poor quality hosting, “So, we migrated the Lithuanian website to Hostinger and everything changed immediately.”

Switching to Professional Cloud Hosting was a transformative move for Softy – it is currently in the process of transferring the other sites over. “We plan to move our Latvian, Estonian, and English websites over to Hostinger too because it has definitely made our website faster, and our customers happier.”

Looking back on Softy’s growth, Diana is adamant that it was building the first online store that changed everything. “You can’t just build a basic website – you really have to work on it to keep your customers happy. We added express checkouts, started listing our products on eBay, and we’re getting the .co.uk version of Softy ready to launch in a new market.”

“We knew we were ready to expand and we knew that Hostinger wouldn’t let us down, that our online store wouldn’t crash, and that we would be able to keep on growing.”

Have you used Hostinger? Want to appear on our Customer Spotlight? We’d love to tell your story. Reach out at spotlight@hostinger.com.


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wpadmin July 1, 2022 0 Comments

Mad Over Exploring – Rediscovering Your Own Backyard

The pandemic spoiled many people’s travel plans. But that didn’t stop Chaitra and Sunkist, the bloggers behind Mad Over Exploring – switching to domestic travel provided them with a world of opportunities. This allowed them to find their niche – sharing knowledge about the United States, a massive, culturally diverse region.

In 2017, Chaitra and Sunkist had just started dating. Chaitra was studying in Florida, while Sunkist was living in Washington, DC, and they’d frequently visit each other. The long-distance relationship served as an excellent opportunity to explore the United States, so the couple made a habit of going on interstate road trips, visiting new cities, exploring nature, and experiencing the American landmass in all its beauty.

That was the beginning of Mad Over Exploring (MOE). As Chaitra and Sunkist’s friends and family were interested in the details behind the pictures they’d shared on Instagram, they decided to start a blog where they’d recount their adventures. The couple was pleasantly surprised with the positive reception it received, and MOE has been growing ever since.

In 2020, Chaitra and Sunkist moved in together after making a few international trips. The world went on lockdown – Sunkist says that this gave them another chance to “explore their backyard further” and prompted them to expand MOE into a business focused on social media, video content, and travel tips. “The idea was that America is beautiful. There are many bucket-list-worthy adventures, and we wanted to showcase that,” Sunkist smiles.

Relatable Content Builds Trust

The United States is a melting pot of cultures and geographical identities – it’s millions of square miles of megacities, endless forests and valleys, deserts, mountains, tropical landscapes, and a colorful array of lifestyles, almost impossible to explore within one lifetime. A recent survey has shown that 11% of Americans have never set foot outside their birth state, and 54% of them have never visited more than ten states.

Chaitra and Sunkist, the bloggers behind Mad Over Exploring, at the Wave, Arizona.

Sunkist and Chaitra saw the potential in helping Americans rediscover the United States. To do so, they traversed the country back and forth, visiting everywhere, including the imposing New York City, the tropical paradises of the Virgin Islands, and the Mojave Desert.

It’s important to stress that the couple doesn’t travel full-time – Sunkist and Chaitra both have nine-to-five jobs, which means that they plan their vacations just like anybody else, juggling time and money, and always trying to get the best for less.

As a consequence, MOE focuses on practical travel. In a nutshell, if a destination or experience is out of reach for the average person, it’s not worth discussing on the blog. “People find our experiences relatable and repeatable. It’s something they can easily do themselves,” concludes Sunkist.

On MOE, you won’t find anything as vague as an “unforgettable two-week drive through California.” Instead, the blog covers wonderful weekend getaways to national parks, forests, and other hidden gems. Chaitra and Sunkist also explore iconic Americana destinations – like their report on the road trip down the fabled Route 66 highway.

Smart Travelers

Since time is always of the essence when working a day job, Chaitra and Sunkist have learned how to make their adventures fit their schedules and budget. As a consequence, they’ve become self-made experts on smart traveling.

“A lot of people choose to travel on a budget. But if you’re saving money and losing time, it’s not really a smart way to travel – time is money, too,” says Sunkist.

Chaitra and Sunkist, the bloggers behind Mad Over Explorer, snorkeling.

According to Chaitra, affordable travel boils down to careful planning. Mapping out your itineraries can make a world of difference, especially if you focus on the nitty-gritty, such as sticking to one car rental company for free ride bonuses, or calling hotels directly because booking companies take a cut. The couple also suggests supporting local businesses because you might end up getting better deals.

But what’s most important is knowing your preferences. If you’re into lazy tropical holidays – go to Puerto Rico, Hawaii, or the Virgin Islands. If you’re into hiking and the outdoors – pick Utah, Arizona, or the Pacific Northwest. And city lovers must visit metropolises like Lost Angeles and Chicago. New York, too, but there is a catch if you decide to go there.

“New York is overrated because people expect the maximum from visiting tourist destinations. That’s not what the city is all about – its fabric is the locals. If you want to go there, hit a bar and visit the local eateries and bakeries. Get an experience where you can interact with the city residents,” says Sunkist.
While the couple is busy scouting for new locations, they’re also sketching out plans for a travel agency. After four years of using Hostinger’s Premium Hosting, MOE is ready to level up with personalized trips, catering to various tastes and lifestyles. 2022 is the year where Sunkist and Chaitra might finally break ground. But until then, the couple is happy to keep giving the low-down on traveling the United States.

Have you used Hostinger? Want to appear on our Customer Spotlight? We’d love to tell your story. Reach out at spotlight@hostinger.com.




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wpadmin July 1, 2022 0 Comments