The holiday season is fast approaching and it is time to look forward to traveling to friends and family to celebrate. With some preplanning, you can reduce your cyber risks and really enjoy your travels.
Here are 10 tips to think about before you pack your bags and head out
1. Leave it behind – don’t even take your laptop or company-use smartphone if possible. This reduces the risk of someone stealing it and getting access to your data and network. You are on vacation, remember? Leave the work behind for true relaxation.
2. Ok, you are a workaholic and just have to take a device that lets you connect to the company network. Be sure to have the latest anti-virus software and operating system updates on your device. Encrypt sensitive data.
3. Don’t use public Wi-Fi spots. Someone will likely be hacking into your device and trying to steal data. Consider a Mi-Fi. Get a portable personal Wi-Fi gadget and data time from a wireless carrier. Some have shared plans, some have pay-as-you-go plans. Coverage can be quite good. I recently signed up for Virgin Mobile’s plan and it works great even in the middle of the San Francisco Bay. Alternatively, check out the services that verify hot spots. Some even offer super cheap day passes.
4. Don’t use hotel or other public computers. Results of several tests show that these computers frequently have malware on them. You insert your USB drive and the next thing you know, you have malware on your own computer when you plug that USB drive into your office computer. These public computers also frequently track your key strokes and find out your passwords and other personal data. Either save your boarding pass to your smartphone or print it at the airport kiosk.
5. Use your cell service instead of Wi-Fi if possible. It is generally safer than Wi-Fi connections.
6. Don’t leave devices in the hotel. Take them with you or lock them in a hotel safe. There are so many ways a criminal can gain access to your hotel room and steal the device, or just add malware in a minute and leave the device in place.
7. Turn your Bluetooth device off when not in use. Some devices allow for automatic connection which allows other Bluetooth devices to connect to your device without you knowing it.
8. Limit the distribution of your out of office messages to people in your organization. No need to broadcast to unknown people and social engineers that are looking for hacking targets that your computer is not being used regularly.
9. Pay with a credit card or cash. Even if your bank covers debit card fraud, why take the risk of the criminal getting access to your bank account?
10. Only charge your devices directly with a connection to an outlet. Don’t risk transferring malware from an unknown charging station or a computer. Be sure to pack those adapters.
A little vigilance might just make your travels cyber safer. And be sure to take lots of photographs to remember this joyous season.