Thankfully, it seems as though the COVID-19 pandemic is finally dying down and we are all able to get back to a lot of the things we love that we haven’t been able to partake in for over a year now. Restaurants and shops are booming with customers again and people are finally having their rescheduled weddings or family celebrations. A major industry that has been on the rise in the last few months is the world of travel. While travel authorities like the TSA will still require travelers to wear face masks, many folks are so thrilled to have the opportunity to travel that they simply do not mind too much. As you get back to traveling, it is still just as important to keep cybersecurity in mind as much as you have while working from home all these months. Here are some helpful tips to staying cyber secure while getting back to your love of traveling.
- Backup and update your devices before you leave — Before heading to the airport to depart on your whirlwind adventure, be sure that your devices’ security systems are up-to-date with the latest software. The newest software update pop-up you receive is not just there to bug you, but to help you ensure your phone is as protected as the manufacturer can make it on their end. Additionally, once your phone is updated, back it up either to your home computer or the cloud to be sure that if something does unfortunately happen to your phone that your photos, notes, and other vital pieces of information are saved. This will help you to start your trip out on the right foot.
- Do not use airport charging stations — Airport charging stations can look like an aquifer in the Sahara for a traveler with a dying or dead phone with only a charger and no wall plug. However, the USB charging stations are highly hackable because of the nature of just plugging your phone into them directly with the charging wire as you would to your own personal laptop. However, when you need your phone, you need your phone — in 2021, that could literally be the difference between having your ticket (in your phone wallet) or not being able to board your flight. Do not worry — you can still use these charging stations as needed, but be sure that you use them either to charge a portable charging block that you have or use the wall plugs to charge your phone. You may have to pay a high surcharge to get buy one of these if you forgot them, but it is far more worth your while to do this than to risk a hacker getting into your phone.
- Avoid Public Computers and Networks — Be it the airport or hotel WiFi, be wary of your connection to public Internet connections. A way to test the security of an Internet connection is to attempt to access the WiFi with a password you know to be incorrect — if you can still access the connection with this step taken, you will know for sure that this is an insecure connection. If possible, try to use a hotspot when you are able or only connect to WiFi available temporarily so that you can stay safe from hackers who take advantage of weak connections.
- Physically secure your devices when traveling — While there are plenty of steps to take to secure your devices when you have them, it is just as important to ensure that another person is not able to take your devices and use them as their own. Many hotel rooms come with a safe and these can be one way to protect your belongings. However, as there have been instances where those safes were easily breached, try to put your device physical security in your own hands and travel with a lock for your suitcase that can help to ward off any unwanted access. In the event your devices are not physically secured: Password protect your devices in case a malicious person is able to steal them and enable Find My iPhone and other similar phone finding features to use your family’s devices to locate your own.
- Wait to post your vacation pictures until you get home — When you post your favorite pics of the day to your various social media accounts, you pose a major risk to your immediate and home surroundings. If a cybercriminal has access to these accounts and you are posting things in real time or going live all the time and talking about where you are staying, a malicious person could figure out which hotel room is yours and access it when they know you are away. They could also know your exact physical location and cause harm to you if they wishes because your location is shared on social media in real time. Not only this, but a bad actor who seems that you are away from home and knows you have a high powered laptop for work or a gaming system worth thousands of dollars, it is as though you are marketing to them that these things are not being protected at the present moment. The best practice for sharing your memories with the world is to wait until you’ve safely returned home.
- Update your device once back home — Once you’re back home, tanned from your vacation and finally able to upload your vacation trip to Instagram, be sure to update your device with any new software update available and back it up again in order to save those photos for years to come.