Whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, it is essential to remember that while you should enjoy your stay, safety and security must still be the priority, and that goes for your personal well-being as well as for your data. Cybercriminals live all over the globe and some destinations are less secure than others, so it is important to remain informed and proactive against threats.
Before you leave home for your next trip, consider the tips and advice below so you can keep your private information to yourself and enjoy your adventure without worry.
Planning Before Your Trip
While cybersecurity may not always be your top concern when you are at home, you don’t know what dangers can lurk while you are out and about, and if you’re not careful, your data could be stolen in an instant. Even legitimate businesses can take your data and use it for marketing purposes, and while most countries try to keep a handle on the situation, some, like the United Kingdom, still struggle to keep their companies in compliance.
The point is, you never know what to expect, so you should prepare your devices before the trip, so you are ready for anything. Start by equipping your mobile devices with a passcode or password that is difficult to guess and a form of two-factor authentication like a biometric scan of your face or fingerprint, so only you can access your device and it cannot be used maliciously if stolen.
You should also turn off any automatic features that can create a vulnerability on your device. For instance, turn off the option for automatic Bluetooth connectivity, which will open a pathway for nearby devices which criminals can use to hack into your system. You should also turn off location services so you’ll only give out your location when you choose to do so. Also, check your social media apps and turn on the privacy settings so they can’t share your information.
If you are traveling to an entirely new place, then you need to be extra careful with how and when you use your devices, especially when you are out in public. While you are at restaurants and coffee shops, it can be very alluring to connect to the free public Wi-Fi and stream your favorite show or confirm your flight, but you must be very careful. Hackers can try a tactic called a man-in-the-middle attack, where they set up a fake Wi-Fi network, and when you connect, you are really connecting directly to the hacker.
It is important to be wary of fake Wi-Fi networks. Often, the hacker will try to draw you in by placing a keyword like “free” on the network name or attempting to mimic the name of the establishment. To ensure absolute protection, ask an employee for the correct network so you can connect safely.
You should also keep your phone securely in your pocket whenever necessary while in public. You can proactively secure your phone ahead of time just in case your device is lost or stolen by enabling a “Find My Phone” app or a setting on your phone. Before you leave for your trip, you should also back up all of your important data onto a separate server, so if your phone is lost, you can restore your data.
If you are staying in a hotel or an Airbnb, then you should enjoy your time but be cautious of using any smart devices that aren’t yours, including smart speakers and smart televisions. In many cases, these smart devices are working off of outdated software or they aren’t password-protected, which leaves them vulnerable, and if you connect your cell phone to the device or you log into a streaming service on an infected TV, your data and identity could be in jeopardy.
You need to be proactive in this instance as well, especially if you fall victim to malware or a virus. You should have antivirus software installed on your phone so you can stop a virus in its tracks if you are infected. You should also ask hotel management or the owner of the house if their devices are properly secured.
To ensure ultimate security, you should install a VPN (virtual private network). A VPN can be installed on any device, and it will disguise your location and secure your Wi-Fi connection regardless of where you go. Plus, the VPN automatically encrypts your information so it cannot be used by hackers even if they were able to gain possession.
In the end, we live in a new world where dangers lurk, so cybersecurity is essential. Before you go on your next trip, heed the advice above and have a great adventure.
Ainsley Lawrence is a freelance writer with an interest in topics related to how education, business, and technology intersect with the personal. She enjoys travelling to beautiful places and learning more about her cultural and environmental surroundings. You can connect with Ainsley on Twitter and Contently.