22 May Cybersecurity Tips To Keep Your Summer Travels Cyber Safe
With the summer season fast approaching, travel plans for many of us will soon be in full motion. As you make your travel checklist, it’s important to remember that cybercrime is now as much of a threat as any conventional dangers. Gone are the days of just locking all the doors and having a neighbor scoop up your mail. Below are some cybersecurity travel tips that you’ll want to check off before you check in for your summer travels.
Beware of sharing travel updates and specific itineraries on social media
We all enjoy using social media to keep in touch with family and friends, but you should always be careful with the information you share online, and travel plans are no exception. To keep your home safe while you’re away, avoid posting travel dates, destinations, and itineraries to social media until after you return from your trip.
The social updates you post while you’re out of town make it clear that you’re not at home, and when cybercriminals know you’re away, your home becomes an easy burglary target. We saw this happen with Atlanta Braves right fielder and Woodstock, Georgia, native Nick Markakis, whose Buckhead home was burglarized while the Braves were on the road in Philadelphia for their season-opening series against the Phillies.
While Nick Markakis might not be able to keep the Braves’ travel schedule unknown, it’s much easier for the rest of us to keep our own travel plans unavailable to the rest of the world.
Be cautious of public Wi-Fi
Public wireless networks allow users to conserve on mobile data consumption, but they also expose users to significant risks. Public Wi-Fi tends to be unsecure, providing an opening for cybercriminals to access your information, especially overseas. Any Wi-Fi network not protected by a password is vulnerable to attack.
The safest way to interact with public Wi-Fi is to avoid any activities that could jeopardize your data, like logging into password-protected sites or engaging in financial transactions, including checking your bank balance or any online shopping. This information can be easily stolen over an unsecure network. So if you must use an external network while traveling, never check bank balances, log in to credit card or other accounts, or share important personal information.
When there’s just no way to avoid public Wi-Fi, look for HTTPS:// in your browser window for a secure connection or use a virtual private network (VPN).
When in doubt, default to mobile data. If you need to be sure of a secure connection, use your mobile device directly; use your mobile device as a hotspot for your PC; or travel with a standalone mobile hotspot. This is particularly valuable advice for business travelers, given that it’s often necessary to network on the go and security is critical for business-related activities. Check with your phone carrier for travel plan options.
Turn off home computers while away
Many of us leave our home computers on out of either convenience or habit, but this seemingly innocuous routine carries great risk. Leaving home computers on, or even just plugged in, when not in use makes those devices more vulnerable to hacking. It’s important to make sure those home devices are not only turned off, but also unplugged when you’re away for any extended period of time.
Back up your data
In order to reduce the chances of anything getting damaged, stolen, or lost, think twice before you take an army of devices on your next trip. The fewer devices that you pack, the better (and the safer).
For the devices that you do plan to take with you on your trip, back up all the valuable data that’s saved on those devices. If you lose any of these devices while you’re traveling, you’ll avoid the double-disaster of also losing the data. Store all sensitive files in a secure facility on the cloud and back up your data onto a removable storage device that can be kept somewhere safe.
Protect your home
There are more ways to protect your home than just locking your doors and turning on your home security system. Alert your home alarm provider to your travel plans so they know your house will be vacant. In addition, disconnect your garage door opener and lock it manually to thwart cybercriminals who can hack the electronic code. Be sure to turn off any home devices or appliances that are connected to the Internet.
When you return home from your trip, consider changing all your passwords in case any of your data was compromised over the course of your travels.
Also, prior to departing, remove any stored credit card information associated with your Apple or Google account and turn on the lock-screen passcode for mobile devices. If your phone is lost or stolen, there won’t be much of your personal information that can be easily accessed.
It’s nearly impossible to entirely protect against all the threats that new technology introduces into our daily lives. However, these cybersecurity travel trips will add an extra layer of digital defense against the hackers and other cybercriminals who seek to prey while you’re away.
Gratus Capital is an SEC-registered investment adviser. Registration with the SEC does not imply any level of skill or training. Our ADV documents are available upon request. The opinions expressed are as of March 2019 and may change as economic conditions vary. The information provided is not intended to be relied upon as specific investment advice and is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities. This article is intended to provide generalized financial information; it does not give personalized tax, investment, legal, or other professional advice. Before taking any action, you should always seek the assistance of a professional who knows your particular situation for advice on taxes, your investments, the law, or any other matters that affect you or your business.