Nowadays, travelling has become so easy and convenient that you can book your next big adventure with just a click of a button.
Unfortunately, this ease of travel has caused many travellers to become lax about other important aspects of their trips, especially cybersecurity. More and more criminals are developing new ways to target travellers to capitalize on this complacency.
So, how do you have the best time travelling while staying safe online? Below are eight simple but effective tips to boost your cybersecurity. Follow them, and you’ll have no problem enjoying your travelling!
1. Review your privacy settings
The first thing travellers must do before jetting off is review privacy settings on all their devices, including smartphones and tablets. At home, we might use features such as auto-connections and Bluetooth, which help us get the most out of our devices. But on holidays, these can be a significant liability.
When travelling abroad, your phone may unknowingly link to a malicious hotspot that monitors your activity. Or your Bluetooth might allow suspicious devices to connect to you without your consent or knowledge. By fine-tuning settings ahead of time, you’ll reduce the risk of connecting to a dodgy network.
2. Only use your charging equipment
If your phone or electronic device needs a recharge, be careful when using public charging points. Authorities are warning of a new cyberattack known as ‘juice jacking,’ which sees cybercriminals loading malware onto public USB charging stations.
Through this, they can infect any connected devices, lock you out of your device, export personal information, and steal login information.
When travelling, carry power banks you can connect to on the move. You should also only use chargers you own that have been bought from trusted suppliers. Remember always to select the ‘charge only’ option and never agree to share data with an untrusted computer or docking station.
3. Set strong passwords and biometric logins
Passwords, PINS, and login security are essential to cybersecurity, especially when travelling. If a device is lost or stolen, you’ll have peace of mind that the contents of your device are secure.
Before setting off on your trip, remember to set strong passwords, especially on devices like tablets or game consoles, which ordinarily might stay home. Strong passwords should include a variety of upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols to add complexity.
Avoid using personal information like date of birth as PIN codes, as hackers may have gathered this information for their attacks. Where possible, activate biometric logins (e.g., fingerprint or facial scans) to ensure you and only you can log in successfully.
Finally, many travellers use cloud storage and emails to save necessary travel documentation. Remember to set recovery emails to access this information during a cyber emergency.
4. Secure your online connection with a VPN
Our phones are a part of our daily life, and no doubt, when you’re travelling, you’ll want to post updates online, use maps, and research fun things to do.
However, there are severe dangers to connecting to public Wi-Fi networks when travelling. Hackers often lurk on networks, including airports, cafes, and hotels, to monitor tourist activity. They may even set up fake networks to trick users into connecting to them and sharing their private information.
A virtual private network (VPN) is an essential cybersecurity tool that protects you against this and safeguards your online activity. It encrypts your internet connection, preventing your information from being intercepted.
Many people don’t realize that a VPN can protect all your internet connections, including on your phone and tablet. By downloading a VPN app from your service provider, you can connect to a secure server from any device and enjoy maximum protection online.
5. Update everything before you go
Every day, new attacks are developed by hackers to exploit old vulnerabilities in software. Keeping your devices and apps updated ensures they have all the information they need to defend themselves.
Before setting off on a trip, download any available updates and ensure you have installed them. Furthermore, you should enable the ‘automatic updates’ option on your devices. This way, you won’t miss any vital security updates released during your travels. After all, a hacker will not wait until you return home to attack you.
6. Avoid using public computers
When on holiday, you might need to check in online, print off ticket information, or research your trip. Be wary when using public computers on holiday, as criminals can hijack these beforehand to monitor tourists’ activity.
Where possible, avoid inputting personal and financial information using publicly accessible computers. Never allow a computer to remember your password. Once finished, log out of all websites you’ve used and delete cookies and any stored information. Remember to log off entirely from the computer so the next user cannot continue from your session.
7. Think twice before you post online
A big part of holidaying is sharing your adventure with friends and family online. But you should think before you post, as many criminals monitor social media to identify targets who are planning to go away.
By planning a cyberattack around your trip, criminals will hope that your guard is down and that you won’t notice any suspicious activity on accounts until you return. Moreover, knowing details about your trip might inspire criminals to rob your house while you’re away.
Check your account security before travelling if you want to share during your travels. Turn off geo-tagging and restrict posts strictly to friends and family only. But ultimately, you should wait until you’re home before uploading your photos online.
8. Be mindful of your physical security, too
Finally, protecting our physical space when travelling is an overlooked part of cybersecurity. The Federal Communications Commission advises travellers to be vigilant of their surroundings, keep devices on their person at all times, and never leave them unattended or in unsafe places.
When using your device, restrict screen visibility to prevent passers-by from spying on your screen over your shoulder and stealing your information.
Consider enabling two-factor authentication (2FA) on all your accounts. This feature asks you to verify your identity through a single-use code sent via email or SMS. Even if a hacker spies on a specific login, they will be unable to gain complete access to your account without the second code.