Traveling Cyber Safe

What you can do to keep secure while you're away

Tech Tips

Traveling Cyber Safe

Travel is on many minds in the summer months. Whether for family vacation or a big conference, many people get out of town around this time of year. And most people take mobile devices or laptops with them as they go. What can you do to keep cyber safe while you’re away? We have compiled a few key considerations for every phase.

Before heading out the door…

Keeping cyber safe while you are away can start at home. Basic cybersecurity practices are important wherever you go, but pay special attention to these 5 key areas while gearing up for travel:

  1. Update and patch. Make sure your mobile and laptop operating systems as well as any software or apps you use are up to date with the latest security fixes. These close known gaps in the programs’ security and protect against many hacks currently in use. It is a good practice to keep up to date and patched in general, but it becomes even more important while you are away from known networks.
  2. Check your back-ups. Make sure you have a secure copy of contacts, photos, videos, and other data on either a physical or a cloud-based system just in case something goes awry while you are out of town.
  3. Enable multifactor authentication (MFA) wherever it is available. Check our recent blog to see how to enable MFA on various social media sites. The extra layer of security prevents anyone who might steal your username and password from accessing your accounts without another form of authentication.
  4. Check access settings. Make sure the only one who can access your devices is you. That means choosing a physical identifier like facial ID or strong, rotated passcodes to log in to your phone, tablet, and computer. This helps secure the data located on them in case you lose track of them while out. This is especially important if you happen to store credit cards or access to accounts in your browser. (For a bit on why not to store credit card information or passwords in your browser, click the links!)
  5. Disable auto-connections to wireless networks and Bluetooth. This will keep you off public internet without your permission. It will also keep criminals from accessing your mobile devices through AirDrop and similar features without your knowledge.

On the road.

While you are out, keep in mind that not every place is as secure as home. Keep these 4 keys in mind to keep things safe from theft/loss and from cyber threats.

  1. Keep track of your things. Keeping devices physically secure is important. Pay special attention while in that rideshare or airport/train station. Also, make sure you do not leave any device unattended out in the open in a car, hotel, or vacation rental. Losing access to your device could mean compromising the information or access to accounts on it.
  2. Use your own charger. Opt for plugging your own charger into an outlet over a recharging station—even if it’s the lamp in your hotel room. These may be connected to hidden computers that can download info from them—or load malware onto them.
  3. Protect your connection. Use your own mobile hotspot or a VPN if you need to access the internet while away. Using guest wi-fi networks often leaves you vulnerable to hackers. Using a public computer (hotel business center, internet café) opens you up similarly.
  4. Remove device pairings. If you paired your phone to your rental car for navigation or handsfree calling, a lot of your information can remain accessible once you return it. Take the extra step of unpairing your device to keep your data (and your contacts’ information) private.

Back home, sweet home.

Part of staying cyber safe is keeping tabs on the last bits as your travel wraps. Make sure you do these 3 things once you are sleeping in your own bed again to make sure things are right as rain moving forward.

  1. Shred sensitive data. Keep an eye out for anything with personally identifiable information. This includes your boarding passes and luggage tags. Anything with a bar or QR code can link back to more information than is printed on it in black and white.
  2. Update passcodes and passwords to devices used on travel and accounts accessed while traveling. In case someone did get their hands on your information while you were away, the information will be old news and you will be protected once again.
  3. Check in with your antivirus. Make sure your endpoint protection is updated and running scans for viruses immediately upon return. This ensures your system is looking good as you get back into your daily life.

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