Burton Kelso, Tech Expert
How To Cut Down Your Risk Of Cyber Crime When You Travel This Summer
It's Summer travel season and if your family is like my family, you have a trip or two planned in the coming months. It's always important to put together a travel checklist of items to do before you take off on that trip such as having your neighbor collect your mail, hiring a pet sitter, and having family members keep an eye on your house. There another set of items you need to add to your check list and it's protecting yourself from cybercrime as you travel. When you travel, you carry wealth of information such as credit card information and passports/personal identification which are attractive targets for cybercriminals. Want to stay safe this summer, here are some cybersecurity travel tips I put together that you will want to follow before you take off on your summer travels.
1. Password Protect Your Devices. Before you take off on your trip, turn on the lock-screen passcode for your mobile devices and put a password on your laptop. If your device is lost or stolen, there won’t be much of your personal information that can be easily accessed.
2. Take caution when paying: When travelling, don’t use your debit card at stores or restaurants. Use credit cards instead. Many stores have security systems with their point of sale, but don't take the chance that they don't. Credit cards are safer to use when travelling because if you a victim of a breach, it's easier to recover with a credit card than a debit card. Watch out for credit card skimmers as well when you are you travelling. If you have to use an ATM, find one inside a bank where the chance of an ATM having a skimmer attached is reduced.
3. Don't Use Public Wi-Fi (If you can help it). When you travel, it's tempting to use public wi-fi because it helps you save on your data plan. I wouldn't suggested doing so because it increases the risk of criminals accessing your sensitive data. If you have to use public wi-fi, do the following things. First, download and use a VPN (virtual private network) on your computer or smart device. A VPN creates a tunnel that protects the data you look at and share over the Internet from prying eyes. Tunnel Bear is probably one of the best VPN programs on the market. Next, avoid checking bank balances or doing any online shopping when you're connected to public Wi-Fi. Finally, understand that the most secure Wi-Fi connection is your mobile connection. If you need to work while travelling and needs access to the Internet, consider getting a mobile hotspot or use your phone or tablet's mobile connection. Whether you are travelling domestically or abroad, check with your mobile carrier to see what plans are available.
4. Watch What Travel Information You Share on Social Media. It's fun to be able to share social media posts when you are travelling, but be careful what information you share. Criminals can use your travel to target you. Attacks can come in the form of burglary or cyber crime campaigns directed to you and your family, based on the information you shared online. If you have to share on social media, you should wait to share all of that fun travel information when you return home.
5. Back Up Your Data. Yes, I know I'm always talking about backing up your data, but what would you do if you lost your device will all of those travel photos? You would probably head the nearest cliff and dive off. If you take steps to backup your data, you don't have to worry if your device is stolen or damaged. I always recommend people use their smartphone as their primary camera when travelling. It's light and with the help of Google Photos, your images and video is instantly backed up to the cloud. If you're an Apple device user, you can use iCloud as well to backup your stuff.
6. Bring Your Own Battery Charger. Free USB power charging stations sound cool, but they also put you at risk. Cybercriminals can make changes to USB power stations to download data from your phone or install viruses. Instead, bring your own battery charger for your phone or use traditional wall plugs instead of USB ports.
7. Change Your Passwords After Your Trip. Consider changing all your passwords after your trip just in case any of your data was accessed during your trip.
It’s hard to protect against all of the cybercrime threats out in the world, but it isn't impossible. My cyber security travel trips will help you add much needed digital defenses against the hackers and other cyber criminals who want to take advantage of you as you travel.
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