Cyber “Safe” Vacations

by | Jul 16, 2019

As we discussed in our last post, “Free Wi-Fi is the Best! (…right?),” cybercriminals are looking to take advantage of you, ESPECIALLY when you are on vacation, and your mind is looking for relaxation.

Here are are a few more tips to be aware of before you leave:

1. Make sure your laptops, tablets, gaming devices, and phones are updated with the latest software, especially your operating system. If you are one or more versions behind, you are at significant risk! Make the time to do this, and you will avoid a lot of potential headaches.

2. Backup your devices. For many of you, this is done automatically. But for many, this is something they have been “meaning to get to,” but always falls down the priority list. Put it on your schedule and get it done. If you haven’t done a backup for a while (or ever), expect the first time to take some time, and maybe it takes 3-4 tries to get it all backed up. Apple, Android, Verizon, AT&T, etc. all have low-cost monthly options for automated backups.

3. For mobile devices, change your PIN used to log in, just for your vacation. For example, if I have a trip planned for July, I may change my PIN to 0719, just for the week or two that I’m gone. Why? Cybercriminals know that most people use a single PIN for nearly everything — their mobile devices, ATM card, mobile Banking Access, Garage Code—etcetera! (If you’re laughing right now, you are guilty of this!). Studies have shown that cybercriminals often work backward. They can start with a PIN (looking over your shoulder while you unlock your tablet, for example) or some other piece of information they know, and work back from there. Also, make sure everything is locked (notebooks and mobile devices) if you have to leave your screen.

4. Avoid using free “USB ports” available in airports, hotels, and other charging stations. These are a proven method of compromising your devices. Instead, bring the charger you use at home, or maybe even a travel battery to give you a boost.

5. Avoid using free “kiosk computers” found in hotels. A renowned security firm recently estimated that over 65% of kiosk machines have some type of malware installed. So what? What if the malware is capturing your keystrokes as you log in to your bank account? My advice, if you think that you need to use a computer while gone—bring your own.

Hopefully, the last two posts in regards to travel will help keep you and your families safe!