Online Security Tips While Traveling
Travelers often worry about flight delays, bad weather and disappointing accommodations when thinking about the factors that could ruin a vacation. However, a lack of secure Internet access and haphazard habits online can wreak havoc lasting long after beach tans fade away. According to Pew Research, about 27 percent of adults in the U.S. age 65 or older own a tablet or e-reader device and 18 percent of seniors own a smartphone. Downloading an e-book or sending a quick note home can be costly if the proper precautions are not taken.
PrivateGiant CEO and security expert Shaun Murphy (www.privategiant.com) has created a series of tips travelers can use to help keep their personal information and private files safe while away from home.
Prep Before You Go
Patch Up. Packing, printing airline tickets and organizing maps are not the only to-do list items that need to be tended to before a vacation begins. Check all devices staying at home or going on the trip for software updates. Not running system updates is like putting out the welcome mat for cybercriminals. Operating system security holes that could have easily been patched with a quick click can leave you vulnerable to hacks.
Remove Data. Removing unnecessary sensitive data from your devices going on the trip including photos, videos, financial documents and stored passwords can save you from heartache and headaches down the road if your devices are breached, stolen or misplaced.
Wipe Your History. Clear your browser cache files and remove saved passwords. If you accidentally connect to an unsecure Wi-Fi network while travelling do not make it effortless for criminals to steal your private information such as bank access, work emails or photos.
Fake It. Create temporary passwords for sites you plan on accessing while travelling. It is estimated that 60% of people use the same password, or a variation of one, for every account. If you get hacked while traveling, having a temporary “throwaway” password for email or social media will prevent a headache of worry over if your home accounts were compromised.
Browse Safely. Make sure you are using a secured connection to websites when available. A simple “s” (https:// instead of http:// in your web browser’s URL bar) will protect you from most threats local and remote. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has created a utility that will automatically use a secure connection for you. Learn more about it at https://www.eff.org/Https-everywhere.
Double Down. Enable two-factor authentication on your important web services (email, social media, etc.) so in the event that someone does gain access to your passwords they need a second code to get in. Guidelines for setting up two-factor authentication can be found at http://www.google.com/landing/2step/.
Privatize Wi-Fi. For additional security when using a Wi-Fi network avoid using a public connection. Have a Wi-Fi hotspot on your tablet or smartphone, and make sure it’s enabled before your trip so you can rely on its security.
Download Wisely. If you finish the latest bestselling novel between destinations avoid temptation to jump onto the nearest Wi-Fi network to download a new book. While you are travelling is also not the time to get adventurous and order a book from an unfamiliar site simply because the list price is lower. Shop only at known book sellers or through the app store on your device and double check the website address to ensure it is secure before entering private information.
Shut Down. Switch off the wireless connection on your phone, tablet and laptop when they are not in use. By keeping the connection off you are taking another step in protecting your digital identity, by preventing an opportunity for criminals to automatically connect to your device on an open network without you ever knowing what happened.
After Returning Home
Sweep Clean. Running a security sweep when you get home is a wise precaution. Check your computer and other devices for spyware, malware, and viruses. One indication that malware could be looking is an increase in memory use or data use that is otherwise inexplicable.
Keep Watch. Stay alert to phone calls or emails from Microsoft, Apple, Google, or some other major computer entity claiming you have a virus. This is always a scam. Major computing companies will never call you about your personal computer. Tell the caller that you will forward the info to the FTC and hang up. If you receive an email, mark it as spam and delete it without opening it.
For more information about protecting your security and privacy online, visit: www.privategiant.com.
PrivateGiant is a technology firm dedicated to restoring privacy to online communications for the individual and enterprises. Its easy-to-use solutions deliver top-level security protection for text messages, emails, and messages sent or posted on social media and other public forums. PrivateGiant protects everyday communications from the moment they are sent or posted until they reach the designated recipient for decoding. Visit www.privategiant.com for additional information.