Helping you balance your online life

A Travel-Smart Checklist for Being A Cybersecure Traveler

Senior couple walking together on public transport station

Reservations confirmed. Check
Gas in the car. Check
Out-of-Office notifications turned on. Check
Pet sitter lined up. Check
Mail delivery on hold. Check
Bags packed. Check
Home security system turned on. Check

Just waitttttt a minute…. I know you’re excited to get out the door, but you need to add some items to your checklist to make sure you and your family are cybersecure. Did you know that your personal data can be more at risk any time you connect to your devices outside of your home? It’s true! And, many times, travelers don’t give their cybersecurity a second thought.

According to a recent University of Phoenix survey:

Less than half of travels (48%) worry about cybersecurity risks while on vacation

55% feel the need to use personal devices while on vacation outweighs cybersecurity risks

51% believe that using personal devices on vacation is as safe as it is at home

Don’t be this kind of traveler. Much like you protect your suitcase, purse or other belongings when traveling, you should take the same approach with your cybersecurity. Here are some easy tips to keep in mind for your next travel adventure.

Before You Go

Downsize – Become a digital minimalist and leave some of your non-essential tech at home. By bringing along fewer devices, you not only have fewer of them to lose, but you are also providing fewer opportunities for cybercrooks to attack.

Update your mobile software – Make sure that your operating system(s) and software applications are current and updated with the latest security fixes. Just as important, you should also ensure that you use reputable anti-malware software and that it is up to date too. You may want to consider something like AOL Tech Fortress, which offers an additional layer of security on top of your existing anti-virus software.

Backup your information – Back up your personal data, such as contacts, photos, videos and other data on another device or cloud service. With an encrypted backup in place, you can emerge less heartbroken from a malware attack or a device malfunction or loss.

While You’re There

Use moderation when sharing – It’s very common for travelers to want to update social media sites as as they move around new and interesting places. The problem with this type of sharing is that you create a security threat by signaling your location and making it easy for a criminal to know when you’re not in your hotel room or at your home.

Keep it locked and protected – Most devices come equipped with security settings that will enable you to lock the device using a PIN number or fingerprint ID. Do this on every device you bring with you. While traveling, change the PIN numbers or passwords you regularly use. In the event that any of your devices have been momentarily misplaced or forgotten, this will be the first line of defense.

Don’t auto connect – Many people set their phones to find and connect to accessible Wifi networks. While this approach can help reduce your mobile data consumption, it can also expose you to significant risks. Change this setting so that your smartphone and laptop must be manually connected each time you wish to access the Web.

Also, avoid unencrypted Wifi networks and ask your hotel about its security protocol before connecting to the Web. Be extra cautious when using Internet cafes and free Wifi hotspots.

Beware of Bluetooth – Just like your phone’s automatic Wifi connectivity, Bluetooth connectivity can present problems. If your Bluetooth is left on, nearby assailants can connect to your phone and potentially hack into your device. Keep Bluetooth disabled as much as possible while traveling.

Have a great – and safe – vacation!