Imagine scrolling on social media at the airport, connected to public Wi-Fi, when you receive the message that you were logged out of your account. When you try to log into your account, your password no longer works and you immediately figure out that you’re the victim of a cyberattack. When you first connected to the public Wi-Fi network, you thought it was safe to do it because so many other travellers use it. But the truth is that everyone using public internet networks is vulnerable to data theft and fraud.
And this isn’t the only cyber threat you expose yourself to while on vacation, you are carrying your personal documents, withdrawing money from questionable ATMs, and sometimes paying using your credit card from unauthorised vendors. Neglecting to safeguard your online data can cost you a steep price, and you can lose hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Therefore, if you’re planning a trip, here are some recommendations on how to protect your sensitive data and keep cyber attackers at bay.
Book services from secure websites
Suppose you’re in the stage of booking transportation and accommodation; ensure the websites you buy services from are secure. Most booking platforms ask for your card credit details, and it’s crucial to ensure they’re trustworthy before providing them with your financial information. Make sure you’re on the official website of the company you want to buy services from. If this is the first time you have heard of the platform, check if the website address has HTTPS or HTTP in the URL because websites with HTTPS are usually secure. If you want to verify if you’re on a real website, you can use an online scanning tool to identify if the website has any malicious activity.
And don’t forget to check for other users’ feedback to figure out if the service provider you want to buy from provides a high-quality user experience.
Enable passcodes on your internet-connected devices before leaving home
The latest smart devices like tablets, laptops, and phones have security settings that allow you to lock them using a fingerprint ID or PIN. However, if you wanted to access them easily, you most likely deactivated the PIN when you first got them. Suppose you plan to take them with you on vacation; now is the moment to lock them down. And to boost your security while travelling, change the PINs regularly.
Discuss with your entire family to enable standard security features on your internet-connected devices because the PIN codes are the first line of defence while on the go. If you leave your smart devices unattended, or they are lost or stolen, it would be more challenging for the criminal to use your device when it’s locked. Set a complex password, and if possible, enable a two-step authentication protocol, so you get notified when someone tries to use your devices.
Minimise the risk
When leaving home, your first instinct is to take everything with you, but by doing so, you increase the risk you’re exposing yourself to. Take everything out of your wallet and put back only the essentials you’ll need on the road. Also, leave home any device you don’t need for the trip. You might think about taking your expensive laptop with you on vacation, but if you do it, you put yourself a target on your back every time you take it out of the bag because thieves would be tempted to steal it. If you have a cheaper laptop or smartphone, take them with you and leave the expensive smart devices at home. Suppose you want to take a premium camera or phone to capture images from your trip; insure it, to cover its cost in case you lose it.
It’s also recommended to remove your connected accounts from your phone when you cross borders and delete the apps that have private conversations or data. When using your smart devices to browse the internet or purchase services while on vacation, make sure to protect your sensitive data. The GDPR protects European internet users in case of a data breach, but it’s best to be cautious when browsing the internet. Suppose you’re a victim of a cyberattack in the UK; you can claim compensation when the third party fails to protect your information.
Turn off your Bluetooth connectivity
Bluetooth is a great feature to use when at home or in the case because it allows several personal devices to share data between them. If you have a habit of leaving Bluetooth on when at home, make sure to disable it when going on a trip and in public spaces because you expose your device to threats.
When your smartphones have Bluetooth connectivity open, someone near you can pick up the signal and gain access to your device. They can connect to your device easily, and you won’t even know they are stealing your data and files.
Watch out for curious eyes
Dangers aren’t online but offline; you should learn to safeguard yourself from peering eyes. Be aware of who’s around you when you use passcodes to access apps on your smartphone or enter the PIN on your credit card. You can invest in some screen guards before leaving home to install them on your devices and prevent curious eyes from having a glimpse of your content.
Backup your information
Be prepared for the worst-case scenario. The only thing worse than someone stealing your device is losing access to all your data. Backup your important files and sensitive information on the cloud and set a strong password only you know to your backup account. If your laptop or phone gets stolen, you can buy a new one and download your data. It’s also advisable to keep copies of your critical documents, like your passport, on your cloud. Take with you multiple credit cards and store them in different places, so you can still have access to money; suppose you lose one. You’ll feel better knowing you’re prepared for any situation.
We hope the above recommendations help you prepare for a trip where no online dangers threaten your happiness.