Personal Security While Holidaying: 5 Essential Tips

Safe traveling this summer doesn’t just mean wearing a mask and adhering to social distancing measures. Knowing how to stay safe in the digital world is just as important.

 

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, many people are still choosing to travel and enjoy a holiday. Even though local tourism spending in the US has dropped by 44.8% in 2020 compared with last year, the US Travel Association forecasts Americans will spend $583 billion on domestic travel this year.

 

Travelers are constantly exposed to new and unknown situations - that’s why we love traveling so much. Unfamiliar environments push us out of our comfort zone and enrich our lives by enabling us to enjoy new experiences. But while research shows putting ourselves in these situations helps personal growth, it can also distract us from our security. This includes cybersecurity, too.

 

To help you get the most from any new experiences this summer and avoid online safety-related issues, we decided to pull together a few cybersecurity travel tips. Stay cyber-safe!

1. Be careful with public Wi-Fi

Using mobile internet isn’t always feasible, especially when you’re abroad or there’s no coverage. So people resort to open Wi-Fi hotspots. But beware: public Wi-Fi can be an easy way for thieves to hack into any information stored on your device or worse - in your bank accounts.

 

Public Wi-Fi poses numerous threats, so you need to know how to connect to a public W-Fi securely. Here’s what you need to do to stay safe:

  • Disable Wi-Fi auto-connect. Your device will automatically connect to the network you were previously connected to and share your data without you knowing. To prevent this, make sure you’re in charge of any connected networks and disable the Wi-Fi auto-connect function.
     
  • Use a VPN. If you’re connected to an unknown, even worse - passwordless Wi-Fi, you share data potentially accessible by cybercriminals using the same network. But a good VPN helps you hide your network activity and data. Secure internet access while traveling is especially important if you’re using your online banking or shopping online, so be sure to purchase a reliable VPN beforehand.

2. Set up passwords on your devices

Most of us store a lot of sensitive information on our mobile devices. So if your phone gets stolen and you haven’t protected it with a password, a thief can acquire this with a mere slide of the finger. Having access to your mobile apps and personal accounts helps criminals scam your friends and steal money from your bank accounts.

 

Be sure to set up a password on your device, and make it a good one. Better yet, go for two-factor authentication, making one of the factors biometric (using your face or fingerprint). It’s also a good idea to install data wiping software. This way, your data stays protected even if you misplace your device.

3. Watch out for email scams

If you booked a suite at Best Western in Colorado Springs online, you’ll be unsurprised to receive confirmation emails from the hotel. If you were to receive an email from info@besstwestern.com asking for your credit card details, this would make sense. But if you carefully read the email address again, you’ll see an extra ‘s’ in the hotel’s name you might have missed the first time.

 

This is the kind of email scam hackers use to dupe you into sharing your financial information with them. Tricks like this make phishing emails dangerous for users and beneficial for cybercriminals. So be careful and pay close attention to any emails you receive while traveling. Social engineering scammers can get very creative.

4. Stay away from unknown USB devices

You’re sitting at a cafe using your laptop, and a teenager comes up to you asking to send a file she has on her flash drive as an email attachment to her teacher. If she doesn’t, then she’ll risk getting an F for her assignment. What do you do? Run. Okay, maybe not run, but decline politely.

 

You see, there are at least 29 ways an unknown USB device can harm your gadget. The most widespread USB attack is known as juice jacking. It’s a type of cyberattack via a charging port that doubles as a data connection and, well, ‘juices’ your data. So remember: no shady USB drives inside your devices!

5. Share less on your social media

We just love sharing on social media. Posting an Instagram story of our Airbnb, checking-in at the airport, tweeting about a particular restaurant experience. Even though sharing your holiday happiness might be tempting, try to put travel safety considerations first.

 

What are the risks of being so open? There are many! Potential thieves might discover you’re not at home so try to rob your house. You might reveal your hotel or Airbnb details to a potential criminal.

 

More than that, by revealing the geolocation of where you’re potentially spending money, you give cyberthieves the opportunity to collect more data they could use to hack into your bank account. So try to contain yourself and not post everything around you to social media.

 

* * *

 

You shouldn’t trifle with security when traveling abroad or locally, so follow our essential tips to keep your data safe. We recommend protecting your online information as much as you protect your offline life. 

 

But most importantly, once you’ve read these tips, we advise you to put aside the digital world and enjoy your vacation without any distractions. Happy holidays!

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