It’s hard enough to keep your technology secure when you’re working from the office, even harder when you work remotely, but while on vacation, it’s even trickier to keep your devices and data safe.
“The truth is that vacation time is prime time for cybercriminals. Many people are already too lax about information-security practices in their everyday lives. But while they’re on vacation, not only are they not doing enough to secure their devices, but they may also think their temporary accommodations are as safe as their homes,” writes Sue Marquette Poremba in Tom’s Guide.
Before you leave for vacation…
- Poremba recommends you secure your technology at home, before you start your vacation. Conducting financial transactions and downloading podcasts, books and movies are all best done on your own, secure Internet connection. This will help mitigate the risk of a man-in-the-middle attack which is when a hacker intercepts an open Wi-Fi signal to access your data or inject malware.
- You should also try to take only the technology you absolutely need. Consider leaving your laptop at home if you don’t need it. Also, remove unnecessary sensitive data from all devices you’re bringing. This includes financial documents, stored passwords and photos. By doing this ahead of time, you won’t lose important data if your device is hacked or stolen.
- Clean your web browsers by deleting your browsing history and clearing the cache. Pay attention to clearing out any stored passwords so if your device is lost or stolen your browsers won’t be able to offer up your stored passwords.
- Update your security software and applications to ensure the latest security patches are installed and reduce the risk of you getting a malware infection when on vacation.
- Create new temporary passwords for any accounts you’ll use while traveling, particularly if you are using the same password for some of your online accounts. We strongly recommend you use unique passwords or passphrases for each account. Passwords should be at least 14 characters long and utilize special characters and numbers. (For more information about password safety, see THB’s blogs: Educating Employees About Cybersecurity and Top Mobile Security Tips .)
- Be wary of connecting to public Wi-Fi networks. Make sure you connect to an official one rather than a fake one that a cyber-criminal may have set up to trick you. A more secure option than public Wi-Fi is to set up a Wi-Fi hotspot that connects to 4G and LTE cellular networks. Many frequent travelers find it worth the investment. Another option is to use your own smartphone as a hotspot or to “tether” the phone to a laptop via a USB cable to get the laptop online. Not all phones allow you to do this and some carriers charge a monthly fee for this service. If you are traveling outside the country, mobile hotspots and smartphone tethering often doesn’t work and you may have to consider virtual private network (VPN) service or Private Internet Access (PIA).
- Conduct any online transactions in the privacy of your hotel room on a password protected network and use a credit card rather than a debit card. Credit cards have limits and do not give someone access to your bank account.
- Don’t leave devices in your room when you’re not present. There are many hotel employees coming and going, and your new iPad or laptop might be a temptation. You can use a safe often found in today’s hotel rooms or, if your laptop won’t fit in it, hotels will typically lock up items in their office safe at a guest’s request.
- Don’t broadcast your vacation plans on social media. Per a New York Times article, this is a very, very bad idea. Posting your vacation plans may give enough information for robbers to use to break into your house while you’re away. Savvy criminals also monitor social media and even have the tools to pinpoint your exact geographic location while you’re on vacation. Posting photos, status updates, and your itinerary can make it easier for them to target you.
At THB, our goal is to provide our clients with full-service technology services that increase productivity while mitigating risk. Should you have questions about device or data security, please contact your account manager for assistance. A little bit of preparation and being a little tech security savvy can prevent headaches during your summer vacation and the rest of the year.