11 Things to Keep In Mind About Digital Safety When Traveling to Bali, Indonesia
Bali is a gorgeous tourist destination with attractions ranging from picturesque rice fields and lush rainforests to volcanoes, pristine beaches, and effervescent nightlife.
It’s a wildly popular destination for extended holidays because of the low cost of living and relatively safe surroundings for tourists.
But how safe is Bali for digital nomads and people who just cannot bear to be parted from their cherished electronic devices?
Here are some up-to-date tips on keeping digital safety during your Bali trip.
Digital nomads are at particular risk for digital shenanigans
Bali is a very popular digital nomad destination, and criminals know that most visitors carry expensive laptops and other electronic devices with them. They also know that digital nomads often send and receive money via online banks and wallets.
When you use an unencrypted internet connection, you broadcast your banking credentials, social media logins, Netflix account details, email connections, and everything else in plain text. A bad guy with a $2 homemade sniffer tool can intercept everything when you connect without a VPN.
Make sure you hide what you do on the internet. Choose the fastest VPN for your location by using a VPN with lots of servers around the globe.
Standard digital safety precautions
Back up all your data to an external hard drive, cloud storage service such as Dropbox or Google Drive, or both, before you travel. You must be able to access needed information from all of the devices you take with you to Bali. If your laptop gets stolen or lost, you may have to get information via your mobile phone or tablet until you can replace your primary device.
Implant or activate a tracking app on all devices as far as possible so you can track it in case of theft. If your device allows it, install a wiping tool to remove sensitive data if your property is irretrievably lost. That will make things harder for a thief!
Get yourself a 2FA or MFA device, install strong passwords with a combination of numbers, letters and characters, and activate a biometric or fingerprint access control to protect your devices. For more information on Holiday tours for over 50’s be sure to check out Fun over 50 Holidays.
Internet connections on your trip
Remember that every time you use a public Wi-Fi connection, you must accept that everything you do is part of a public conversation. Use your Wi-Fi router with a prepaid SIM card. Either way, never attempt an internet connection without a VPN.
In fact, switch off all auto-connections for WiFi and Bluetooth. That will prevent accidental, unsafe connections you may not even be aware of.
Criminals roam popular tourist areas, bars, beaches, and airports with password sniffing tools to hack networks and steal your passwords and other identifying data. If you prevent accidental connections, you can prevent malware from being installed on your device and your personal information from being stolen.
A VPN is a virtual private network with private servers worldwide that masks your IP address and encrypts everything you do. It blocks criminals from stealing your passwords and money and stops them from reading your private text and mail messages.
If you must use a device in public —like at the airport, airport lounge, or cyber cafe—be aware of your surroundings, don’t log into sites you don’t need to access, and disable any automatic connections to free Wi-Fi hotspots.
People who enjoy working in coffee shops or restaurants could consider buying a privacy screen. You can also use a strategically placed shopping bag or folded paper to prevent people around you from seeing what you are working on.
New digital tricks to watch out for in Bali
Contactless bank cards, passports, and security cards have become ubiquitous since the pandemic. Electronic pickpockets sneak around with skimming devices that can pick up your card’s RFID signal and steal a chunk of your money. It’s not a major industry in Bali, but incidents are growing steadily worldwide.
Since you need to buy a sturdy, pick-pocket-proof carry-bag or backpack for your Bali trip, it’s a great idea to add an RFID-blocking compartment or wallet to your equipment. If you are worried about a short-term threat, you can just wrap your cards in a piece of aluminum foil, which will block any signals satisfactorily.
Safety at Bali’s must-see attractions
Bali promises sun, sea, and tropical fun, but many beautiful religious sites and ancient architecture are also there. Travelers love to visit the Hindu temples of Badung, Pura Kehen, the Bali Botanical gardens, and the Kerobokan Prison Museum.
The Ayung River, Canggu beach, and the Kawah Ijen Volcano are the stand-out spots for beautiful natural vistas.
Don’t stash all your money and travel documents in one place. Distribute copies across several money belts and neck wallets. Look for flat leather or cloth pouches that fit under your clothes and can be quite invisible.
Safety on Bali beaches and adventure spots
Bali is a small island with strong, unpredictable tides that makes it one of the coolest surfing destinations in the world because it also offers unforgettable river rafting adventures. You’ll need to carry some supplies on your day trips, but keep it to the minimum. If you can pare it down to just some cash and a room key, consider stash sandals, a type of flip-flops with a hidden compartment where you can hide credit cards or other small valuables.
If you take a bag or backpack, use one with an extended safety cord and extra-strong clips to tie it to a beach chair. Keep your valuables in a waterproof case tied around your waist, attached to your swimsuit, or hanging around your neck while you swim.
If you lose your phone or cards, contact your bank as soon as possible to help prevent any unauthorized transactions from being made on your account. If you have been using public transport or taxis, get their contact details and leave yours. Someone may find your items and hand them to authorities when they realize it belongs to a tourist.
Bali nightlife safety
Some neighborhoods should be avoided at night, but violent crimes like mugging and kidnapping are not common in Bali. The risk level for female tourists in Bali is low, and lone females don’t usually attract unwanted attention. Even so, avoid walking alone at night to avoid being harassed.
Keep phones or digital devices out of sight – never text or talk while navigating streets you are not entirely familiar with.
Use a local mobile carrier and turn off your Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to prevent accidental connections to free services while you’re out having fun. Criminals can use the opportunity to steal your credentials or hack your devices and even install malware while you’re partying the night away.
Of course, going “off-grid” like that is not the best and safest option for travelers in foreign countries!
It’s far better to install a fast and secure VPN with malware protection to keep you safe in such situations.
Safe eating and drinking in Bali
There is plenty of fun, lively restaurants where you can try Bali delicacies. Cooked street food is generally safe to eat, but beware of raw foods and unwashed salad ingredients.
There is a serious health threat from cheap, dodgy liquor. The local spirit is called Arrack, originally a type of homemade moonshine distilled from coconut flowers or sugarcane. Nowadays, it’s brewed from anything that can be converted to alcohol, but some lethal brews can contain methanol. Methanol can cause death or permanent blindness.
Don’t buy homebrews! Even in regular liquor stores, always check the labels and seals of all the brand label spirits (e.g., Gordon Gin, Johnny Walker whisky) as the contents may have been replaced or spiked with methanol.
Safety while shopping in Bali
Bali is quite notorious for its gangs of pickpockets and low-level street crime, especially in market areas. The thieves who target pedestrians usually screech around markets and streets on motorcycles. Sometimes, gangs of youths cluster around potential victims in shopping malls to grab bags and mobiles.
Always carry your belongings in a bag with built-in safety features. Do some research before you go, and invest in a high-quality, theft-proof backpack. It should preferably incorporate steel wire into the body or shoulder straps to deter bag slashers.
You can also get smaller cross-body bags with a secure-locking main compartment for smartphones. Ensure that any zipper pulls have security hook attachments or extra-strong Velcro closures.
Using ATMs and bank cards in Bali
Never let your card out of your sight or, preferably, your hands. Shop assistants will often handle digital payments on your behalf, and all you have to do is type in your PIN. Decline assistance, keep your card in hand, and don’t put it away until you’ve received the transaction slip.
At ATMs, you must shield the keypad with your body or one hand while entering your PIN. You can also use any shopping bags or backpacks to good effect. Check your card before putting it away to ensure you received your card and not a dodgy replacement.
A final word about safety in Bali
Thailand’s police have been known to extort unwitting tourists who may not have known that there are strict rules about smoking. It’s better to avoid getting stopped by the police. Stick to the rules, enjoy yourself, and stay under the radar!