Cyber Security While Traveling

Learn how to protect your personal devices

Whether it is a business trip or a leisurely excursion to a foreign country, we all love to travel. Unfortunately, personal devices are the most vulnerable when traveling and are exposed to many more threats than at workplaces or homes.

October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, so let’s take a look at some security tips to help keep your devices and personal information safe while traveling.

Keep your travel documents with you at all times

Airline tickets, boarding passes. etc. contain valuable personal information that can be used to identify you. The barcodes on these documents can be scanned to obtain details like your flight history, future flight plans, frequent flyer details, fare paid, and last four digits of the credit card number used to purchase the ticket.

Keep these documents safe. Make sure to destroy the paper copies after your trip is complete, or better yet use the digital version on a password protected phone or tablet. Documents like boarding passes can be permanently deleted after use.

Do not conduct any financial transactions on public Wi-Fi

Whether you are at a train station or an airport, it is unwise to perform any banking activity using a public Wi-Fi connection. Checking your account balance or making a bill payment online can wait until you are at a more secure location.

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If you’re at a hotel or a cafe, ask the staff about their security protocols before you access their Wi-Fi

Try not to use public USB ports to charge your phone

Over the years there have been multiple reports of data theft through standard USB ports in free charging stations. Cybercriminals are likely to exploit a public port by installing malware into it or connecting a computer to the kiosk. The data on your phone can be stolen by using such ports. This is known as juice jacking.

As an alternative to public charging stations, you can bring a pre-charged power bank to last you a few days. If you are hard-pressed for battery life, consider stopping in at the airport tech store and getting yourself a mobile security device like JuiceJackDefender or SyncStop to prevent data-theft attacks.

Lock your devices

Whether you are traveling or not, it is a good idea to make sure that your devices are locked using a fingerprint ID, PIN or both. Don’t make it easy for a thief to access your information.

Do not use unencrypted wi-fi networks

If you’re at a hotel or a cafe, ask the staff about their security protocols before you access their Wi-Fi, and avoid connecting to unencrypted networks.

Disable your device’s auto-connect feature

When you are traveling, the last thing you want is for your laptop or smartphone to automatically connect to an unsecured network. It could leave your personal data exposed and prone to cybersecurity attacks. Change the settings of your device from auto to manual so that every time the device is about to connect to an external network, you are asked first.

Do not frequently share your location

If you travel quite often, try not to update your current whereabouts on social media. It is dangerous to let strangers know that you’re not at home. A cybercriminal could make use of that knowledge and force entry into your home, leaving your personal property at risk.

Keep your OS up to date

With an updated operating system, your devices will be using the newest security patches. Older operating systems can have vulnerabilities and may be easily hacked. Before you travel update your phone, computer, and tablet to the most recent OS available.

Install an antivirus software

Another very simple, yet valuable precaution you can take to protect yourself is to install anti-virus software, or make sure the software you have is up-to-date. For computers, traditional anti-virus software is readily available and there are security apps for smartphones and tablets.

Do not respond to emails from strangers

If you receive a suspicious-looking email, link, or attachment, do not open the attachment, do not click on the link, and most importantly, do not respond to the email. Some scam emails can look legitimate, so make sure you verify the source if it is something you feel needs a reply. A phone call to your bank or account holder is a safer option than risking exposing valuable information through a questionable email.

With these simple tips you should be able to keep your personal information safe and focus on enjoying your trip. For more information on avoiding cyber vulnerability, check out the National Cyber Security Awareness Month website.

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