Protect yourself from cybercriminals when traveling

Whether you’re traveling to Atlanta for a meeting with your team or heading to a tropical locale for a bit of toes-in-the-sand relaxation, it’s important that you do your part to keep yourself as protected as is possible against cybersecurity risks. Cybercriminals may be the last thing on your mind when you’re packing your bags and checking your flight times. But the reality is that there are a number of traps to fall into when you’re away from home and in a different mindset.

One of the most important things to remember about hackers is that they are criminals of opportunity. When you’re away from your secure home and work networks, you are much more vulnerable to their opportunistic methods.

When you’re on the go, you’re much more likely to use public internet access. This could be at the airport, at a restaurant or coffee shop, or even at your hotel. These hotspots are unfortunately quite often targets for hackers, as they are rarely secure.

We’ve got a few tips to help you protect yourself against cybercrime when you’re traveling.

Use a VPN

A virtual private network (VPN) is a useful tool for the remote worker and frequent traveler. A VPN can help to keep your connections private and secure. If you’re working away from home and the office, you should make sure that you have a VPN service installed on the devices you will be using on the road.

Most mobile devices, including laptops and tablets, can generally use a VPN application. The use of a VPN can offer a barrier that makes it more difficult for the lazy hacker looking for an easy target.

Two-factor authentication

Also referred to as 2FA, two-factor authentication is a basic yet essential part of cybersecurity. Even when you’re not traveling, most of your accounts should at least have 2FA enabled. This feature won’t entirely prevent hackers from gaining access to your accounts, but it can help to stop the majority of access attempts made against your accounts.

One of the reasons that 2FA is so important when you’re traveling is that many of us are inclined to let our guard down when we’re feeling relaxed. You may leave your tablet on a table while you take a dip in the pool. You could step away from your e-reader to go join in the conga line. Your smartphone may be taken from your bag by a pickpocket.

The device itself may be insured against theft and loss but if there isn’t an extra layer of security for your online accounts, hackers can gain access without too much effort. Even your e-reader can be a potential doorway to your most secure accounts. Many of the devices function as full tablets, allowing you to access social media accounts and even bank apps.

Lock your devices up, and down

It can be cumbersome to need to use a password to access your tablet or smartphone. But these simple passwords can provide an extra barrier against cybercriminals who would otherwise simply swipe to access your most sensitive data.

Ensure that each of your devices, whether business or personal, has a secure password on it. A four-digit numerical digit is the easiest option. But remember that hackers are relying on you to go the easy route. Choose an alphanumeric option that will be more of a challenge to hack.

If you’re staying in a hotel, you should secure your devices in the provided safe. This simple extra step can help to keep your devices and data out of the hands of those looking for quick and easy ways to scam and scheme.

Keep your devices up to date

When those reminders to update your operating system or to install a security patch pop up, it’s all too easy to ignore them. Often, they slow down your device or need your device to be completely restarted. Time-consuming, certainly. However, these updates are pushed through intentionally. Quite often they are addressing potential vulnerabilities in the system. Ignoring an update could put your device at risk, particularly if you’re not on your secure home or work network.

Keep your devices updated. Make sure that you are using a robust anti-virus solution, one that is kept updated.

These simple steps can offer one more layer of security when you’re traveling.

Using devices in public spaces

You’re sitting outdoors in the sunshine, enjoying a fresh pastry and cup of coffee, in Paris. What could be more perfect? You quickly log onto your banking app from your tablet, to pay a bill you forgot about before you left. What you don’t realize is that someone sitting quite near you has a complete view of your screen and the login credentials that you are using.

Where possible, don’t access financial accounts or even social media accounts when you’re in a public space. You should also consider adding a privacy screen to your device. There are a number on the market, made for most laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

 

When you get home from traveling, you should take the time to run through security steps on each of your devices. The anti-virus software on your device should be run, to ensure you didn’t accidentally pick up malware when you used the airport Wi-Fi. Consider changing all of your passwords, as an added security measure.