Summer is finally here and vacation season is in full-swing. We all know that proper planning helps make for a perfect vacation. And, with these simple cybersecurity tips, you too can have a marvelous, relaxed getaway.
Planning Your Vacation:
Avoid booking scams.
- Be sure to use a reputable booking site to avoid fake websites or scams. You can double-check the Better Business Bureau’s web page for any complaints that may have been filed against the suspicious site.
- Watch out for scams, such as those offering free travel giveaways if you like or share an airline’s page. Frequently these are fake sites used to collect your personal information, which can later be sold and lead to identity fraud. Be sure to confirm directly with the company or business that is providing the “giveaway” that the deal is indeed real.
Utilize your credit cards.
Not only can credit cards be beneficial when booking your trip, many of these cards offer some trip protections. Check with your credit card vendor to see if they refund fraudulent charges and whether they will work with you if charges are disputed. Also, it’s a good practice to let your credit card vendor know you’re planning travel, especially if the travel is to foreign countries.
Do not use debit cards, because debit cards can give the malicious attacker direct access to your bank account, drain your account, and oftentimes, that stolen money is unrecoverable.
Packing for Vacation:
Patch and update your mobile devices.
Give your devices the most up-to-date protection against attacks — this includes updates to your security software (antivirus or firewall programs), the operating system, and your internet browsers and applications.
Not only can updating improve your device’s functionality and performance, it will also defend against malware and shut down access points into your device that are frequently used by malicious attackers.
Patching and updating mobile devices should be something that is done routinely, but it is a good practice to patch prior to traveling to ensure you have received all the latest updates.
Automatically lock your device.
Configure your device to require biometrics (fingerprint or iris scan, etc.), strong passwords, or PINs to unlock the device. If possible, use multi-factor authentication to ensure that if your phone is lost or stolen on vacation that it would be extremely difficult for anyone to access your device.
Backup your data.
Duplicate your contacts, photos, videos, and documents that are stored locally on your mobile device and store them in the cloud or on an external hard drive. If something unforeseen happens to your device while on vacation, you’ll still have all your old information to restore on your new device.
Pack a mobile charger.
With your own charger available, you’ll not only save time by not having to wait by a charging outlet when traveling, you’ll also avoid falling victim to juice jacking.
Turning off Bluetooth will keep your device from auto connecting to every network you happen to pass during your travels. Unsecure networks can be connected to without any intervention from you and provide a great hunting ground for a malicious attacker.
When you want to connect to wireless or Bluetooth, select the network you have determined is legitimate and only connect to that network.
Use public WiFi safely.
If you connect to a hotspot, avoid sending personal or financial information. If you must send personal information, look for a well-known network to connect to that you trust as secure, or look for the lock icon in the address bar.
After connecting to a trustworthy network, only send personal information to websites you know are fully encrypted. One way to determine if a website is encrypted is to look for https at the start of the web address. Verify the https setting is on every page you visit, not just when you first sign into a site. Once you have completed your business using the websites, be sure you log out of all the sites you visited.
Physically protect your mobile device.
A cell phone or tablet left unattended is an invitation for theft or unauthorized access. Always keep your device secure and with you, not packed in a bag that may be stowed outside of your physical possession, or on a dresser in a hotel room. If you must leave your mobile device, leave it locked in a safe in the hotel, or in a trunk of a locked car, so that it is not easily visible for potential theft.
The above are just some of the considerations you should take in order to have a cyber-safe vacation. Of course, you should always stay aware of your surroundings, watch for anyone shoulder-surfing when you enter passwords, or watching as you pack your car with valuables.
Remember recommendations like the Homeland Security public awareness campaign — Stop, Think, Connect — which reminds us to take a moment before downloading or clicking on unknown links.
For other tips, check out these articles:
- 3 Common Vacation Booking Scams and How to Avoid Them, The Points Guy
- Cybersecurity While Traveling Tip Card, PDF by Homeland Security
- Watching Your Wallet: Make the most of your summer vacation, Channel 10/11 News
Wishing you cyber-safe travels!