This summer, many of us will take planes, trains, and automobiles to new destinations and to get a break from the daily grind. Traveling makes us particularly vulnerable to cyber criminals and hackers who want to steal your identity and your money. Don’t let your summer vacation turn into a nightmare. Know what you need to do to protect your mobile device from the prying eyes of thieves and prevent a vacation disaster.
Always enable a passcode lock on your phone and a password on your laptop. This is a no-brainer and this is something you should be doing daily anyway. If you should lose your device, this prevents someone from immediately getting in and stealing data or your credit card information or from logging into your accounts. They might be able to get in eventually if they are skilled enough but this will give you a little bit of time. If you should misplace your device, you can remotely log out of email, Facebook, online banking, and other accounts. You should also change your passwords at this time.
Log out of apps you don’t use often and delete browsing history. If someone gets ahold of your device, they could learn a lot about you based on your browsing history. Take the time to delete this trail of information before your trip. Also be sure that apps and websites aren’t automatically filling in login credentials.
Get a Virtual Private Network, or VPN. A VPN is basically a private network within a public network. It ensures that everything you’re sending over the internet is encrypted and hidden from people trying to spy on you. Connecting to a public Wi-Fi network is risky and a VPN gives you the benefits of free Wi-Fi without the risk. Also, only turn on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when you need to because it’s possible for your phone to automatically connect to an unsecure network.
Don’t overshare on social media. Many of us will announce to the world on social media that we are going on vacation but this is a baaaad idea. This tells anyone who sees your post (and anyone they tell) that your home is empty and available for robbing. There’s also a new threat called social engineering. According to Travel and Leisure, this is when a criminal sees what hotel you are at while on vacation. They then pose as an employee of that hotel asking for your credit card information and you give it to them. So watch what you post to Facebook or Instagram.
Update software and use an antivirus. This is also a tip that should be followed even when you’re not road-tripping. Software updates often come with patches to fix security flaws. Using an antivirus is absolutely vital to any device that connects to the internet. Not using an antivirus leaves devices wide open to anything criminals want to throw at it.
Don’t use a shared computer and don’t use a storage device (USB, disc, etc.) that you find. Shared computers like those in libraries, internet cafes, hotels, and business centers should be avoided at all costs. They are usually infected with malware. While using them, you could log into your accounts while someone is watching your keystrokes or you may forget to logout of your accounts when you’re done. And using a found USB is extremely dangerous. Some bad guys plant them for people to find and plug into their devices. The USBs contain malware that can take over an entire system and steal information.
These tips will help you enjoy your vacations and trips this summer without bringing home any unwanted souvenirs.