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How to Travel Cyber-Safely

June 21, 2016

When you’re lazing on a beach, with a beverage in one hand and e-reader in the next, the last thing you’re probably concerned about is your cyber security.

However, if you don’t take the proper precautions before and during your trip, you can easily find yourself subject to hackers. It’s a lot easier than you think for strangers to gain access to your smartphone, tablet or laptop and compromise your personal information. Not only can someone physically steal your expensive gadgets, but they can also steal your identity or your money, and corrupt your device easily through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth access. Follow these tips to avoid cyber threats to your security while travelling.

Before You Leave

Precautions taken before you even step out of the house can help limit your exposure when travelling.

  • Protect your devices with strong passwords to stop thieves from stealing your information along with your device. Do not use the same password on more than one device.
  • If your device has the option to erase all data if the password is entered incorrectly a certain number of times, enable that as well.
  • Install or update your devices with the latest security software.
  • Backup all of your important files before you leave on a separate hard drive in case you lose your device while you’re away.
  • Research if your device can be located and deactivated remotely through a cloud-based program in case it is lost or stolen.
  • Limit what’s on your device to just the information you’ll need while you’re away.
  • Carry all devices in your carry-on to avoid the risk of it being lost, stolen, or broken.

While You’re Away

As soon as you land, you’re probably itching to turn on your phone, flip on the Wi-Fi and look for the closest public hotspot. But a simple connection to a strange network could leave you vulnerable to cyber attacks.

  • Hackers usually create open Wi-Fi networks that are named to resemble trustworthy connections, like the name of the airport or your hotel, so be sure to confirm the name of any Internet connection before you log on. This access point may even have a better signal strength than the legitimate one.
  • Limit what you do online when connected to public Wi-Fi. Avoid sending emails or instant messages with information that you don’t want shared, and don’t shop or bank online.
  • Internet cafés can also be a hacker hub. When using shared or public computers, it’s best to assume that everything you do online is being watched.
  • If you must conduct business while abroad and are faced with suspicious-looking networks, use a hard-wire Ethernet connection rather than public Wi-Fi as these are generally more secure and harder to hack. Or call your provider to see what data roaming plans are available to you.
  • Turn your Bluetooth setting off when not in use to minimize the chance of unauthorized connections.
  • Plug your device into wall sockets to charge instead of strange computers or other devices. Viruses or other malware can easily be transferred when your device is connected.
  • Never leave your devices unattended. If you have access to a safe in your room, lock them up when not in use.

Travel Safe, Online and in Real Life

By following these tips, you can ensure that you’re protected in cyber space so you can enjoy your vacation to the maximum. Now protect yourself in reality by purchasing travel insurance before you go. Travel insurance will cover you in the event of illness or injury while you’re away, and just like your smartphone, you should never travel without it!