With the massive increase in mobile device sales around the world, it’s easy to imagine that the number of people using the internet while traveling has also increased significantly in recent years. With this increase in online activities, the risk of becoming a victim of cybercrime increases. There are a number of steps travelers can take to protect themselves from being targeted by cybercrime. Here are 10 tips on how to stay cyber safe while traveling.
1. Keep your device with you
When traveling, it is important to always have your devices with you. This includes your laptop, smartphone, tablet and any other device that contains sensitive information. If possible, keep them in carry-on baggage or on one’s person rather than in checked baggage.
Don’t leave your devices unattended in public places and be extra careful in crowded areas like airports and cafes. If you must leave your device, make sure it is in a safe place where it cannot be tampered with or stolen. Most hotels have a safe, usually large enough to hold most laptops. If you rent an apartment, make sure your mobile devices are not visible.
2. Use a VPN
You should of course use a personal Virtual Private Network (VPN), whether you are on the go or at home, but it is particularly important to use it when travelling. A VPN encrypts your internet traffic, making it much more difficult for criminals to intercept your data. This is especially important when using public WiFi, which is often unsecured and easy for hackers to exploit.
There are many VPN providers out there, so do your research to find the right one for you. They work on all devices and there are VPNs for iPhones, Windows and even your Xbox! A VPN also comes in handy when traveling as it allows you to access certain websites and services that may be blocked in your destination country. For example, if you are in a place that blocks WhatsApp or Skype and you need to use them, you can set your VPN to connect to your home country and those services will then work normally. This also applies if your email provider blocks different geographic regions.
However, please note that most VPN programs are processor intensive and will drain your battery faster than normal, so don’t leave the VPN on all the time unless absolutely necessary. If you don’t need to be online, generally switch to airplane mode.
3. Use two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication (2FA) is an important security measure that you should use wherever possible. It adds an extra layer of protection to your accounts by not only requiring you to enter your password, but also a code generated by a separate device like your smartphone.
With 2FA enabled, even if malicious actors manage to steal your password, they cannot access your account without also having possession of your second factor (the code-generating device). This makes it much more difficult for them to successfully hack into your account.
Most 2FA providers also provide backup codes in case your device is unavailable. You should make sure to have these codes available so you don’t get locked out of your own accounts. Like many of my colleagues, I recommend storing these codes on a separate media device, e.g. B. an encrypted USB drive, and not in a password manager to keep them separate.
4. Avoid sending or receiving sensitive financial information on public networks
If you’re waiting in an airport or coffee shop and need to do online banking or a financial transaction, be aware that public Wi-Fi networks are often not secure. This means criminals could intercept potentially sensitive data you send or receive while connected to the network.
To avoid this, only use secure, encrypted websites when sending or receiving sensitive data. You can tell if a website is secure if the URL starts with https:// instead of http://. You can also look for a padlock icon in the address bar, which indicates that the website uses SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption.
Also, make sure the Wi-Fi network you are connecting to is the right one for the location. Criminals can easily set up a fake Wi-Fi network with a similar name to eavesdrop on your activities, so check the network name very carefully before connecting.
5. Use strong passwords and update them regularly
One of the easiest and most effective ways to protect your online accounts is to use strong, unique passwords for each account. While many sites still enforce an old method that requires at least eight characters and a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols, the newer passphrase recommendation is recommended whenever possible. Of course, a password manager is the best option as it allows for the longest, randomly generated, and easy-to-update mechanisms.
6. Be careful what you click on
One of the easiest ways for cybercriminals to gain access to your devices and accounts is to trick you into clicking a malicious link. This is often done via email, but can also be done through social media and other websites.
If you receive an unsolicited email from someone you don’t know, be very careful when clicking on any links or attachments in it. And even if the email is from someone you know, if it looks suspicious or out of character, it’s best to play it safe and not click anything.
The same applies to links you see on social media or other websites. If a link looks suspicious, don’t click on it. And if you’re unsure whether a site is legitimate or not, do a quick search with your favorite search platform to verify before you enter any sensitive information on the site.
7. Keep your software up to date
One of the best ways to protect your devices from attacks is to keep your software up to date. This includes your operating system, web browser, apps and any other software you use. Software updates often include security patches that can help protect your device from the latest threats.
If you see a notification that an update is available, make sure you install it as soon as possible. You can usually do this automatically, so you don’t have to worry about doing it manually.
There are a number of different security tools and services that can help you stay safe online. This includes tools that notify you when a compromise is detected on your device. Several cell phone providers offer these services as part of their data packages.
9. Buy a local SIM card
If you want to avoid the dangers of open networks when you travel, the best thing to do is to buy a local SIM card and use it to set up mobile hotspots. This is a particularly good strategy when you need to send or receive sensitive data.
Most countries have tourist SIM packages that you can buy that give you a predetermined amount of data to use over a period of time. This is usually a lot cheaper than using your home data plan abroad.
Certain countries have more cybercrimes than others. If you’re in a place where you know your credit card information is more likely to be stolen — like using an ATM or buying an airline ticket online — make sure you closely monitor your transactions for fraud .
If you see charges that you don’t recognize, report them to your credit card company immediately. The sooner you catch the scam, the less likely you are to be responsible for the charges. Your card company should also work to get you a new card as soon as possible so you don’t end up without money.
By following the tips above, you can help protect yourself from cybercrime while traveling. Just remember to be vigilant and take precautions when using public WiFi, sharing sensitive information, and clicking links from unknown sources.
With a little attention and care, you can enjoy your travels without fear of becoming a victim of cybercrime.
About the author: With a passion for working on disruptive products, Anas Baig is currently Product Lead at SECURITI.ai. He has a degree in computer science and earned his bachelor’s degree in science from Iqra University. His interests include information security, networks, privacy and data protection.
Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this guest author article are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of Tripwire, Inc