Whether you’re traveling domestically or internationally, for business or for pleasure, the risk of cyber-attacks soar the moment you hit the road. Using an unprotected network while traveling or leaving your device momentarily unattended while you admire a tourist attraction can make you a prime target for hacking. Be as vigilant in protecting your devices as you would your passport by following these critical cyber security tips—wherever you are.
Free isn’t always safe
When traveling, logging into free Wi-Fi connections in public spaces like a hotel, conference room or coffee shop may seem harmless. However, many security settings are left unmonitored. Anyone can connect to these public networks, which exposes you to cyber-attack. Exercise the following steps so that brief moment when you log onto a public Wi-Fi network to map out your next destination doesn’t become your cyber security nightmare:
- Connect to a personal hotspot, instead of logging into a public or untrusted Wi-Fi or Bluetooth network. Even the hotel Wi-Fi can be unsecure.
- Disable auto connect to ensure your devices don’t connect to unsafe networks.
- Opt for HTTPS websites. This will add a layer of encryption so an attacker cannot read your traffic from the network.
- Do not plug foreign devices into your computer. This includes network cables, USBs, etc., which can contain malware and keyloggers.
Keep your device on lockdown
- Always lock your devices when you walk away from them.
- Do not leave devices unattended in public spaces, such as an airport, hotel or a taxi.
- Use strong passwords. Consider implementing passphrases with more than 12 characters and use a password manager to keep track of your passwords.
- Travel light. If possible, bringing only a tablet or "burner" device.
- Turn off all file or network sharing features.
Padlock your data
- Make sure your operating system and all security patches are up-to-date. Never accept a patch or update while traveling.
- Back up your information to another device before you leave.
- Use a VPN wherever you go, which can be provided by an employer or purchased as personal software. This adds a layer of encryption between you and potential attackers on the same network.
- Encrypt your secure data and make sure you double encrypt your critical information.
- Do your research. In certain high-risk countries, your communications may be monitored, blocked or filtered by the government laws in different countries. Some countries have laws restricting VPN, Tor (anonymizing services) and moving encrypted data in and out of the country.
Being proactive about cyber security will keep your critical devices where they belong—in your hands. We also recommend changing passwords when you return home and scanning for malware across devices. If you have further questions about how to travel cyber-safe or believe your data has been compromised, contact the cyber security experts of Friedman CyZen.