While we all love vacations and wonderful new places to explore, we are often more concerned with our packing list than our need for proper cyber security. In our modern age, identity theft often happens through our phones and other smart devices, sometimes even without our notice. Here are some helpful tips to keep your identity and personal data safe when you’re traveling.
Use Public Wi-Fi With Caution
Being connected when we’re away from home is an important part of our vacations. It’s also the easiest way hackers can access your personal data. Be wary of free Wi-Fi networks at cafes and hotels, as it’s easy to be fooled by a fake connection. Connecting to an unofficial or unsecured network leaves your device open to potential threats. When in doubt, always ask an employee or receptionist for the correct Wi-Fi network to link up to, and get the password from them if you need it.
Be Vigilant When Sharing Your Data
If you’re going to be sharing personal data, make sure you’re using a safe network. Accessing bank accounts, making online purchases, and checking your emails on an unsecured network gives a potential hacker easy access to your personal data and passwords. Use your hotel’s Wi-Fi connection to browse more securely, and for added security, turn off any autofill functions you have enabled on your phone. It’s handy to have your credit card information saved to your device, but it’s handy for thieves, too.
This also applies to sharing your data offline. Some scammers may call your hotel room, claiming to be speaking from the front desk. They’ll ask for your credit card number or other personal information, hoping you’ll give them the details over the phone. Always make payments face-to-face, and if you get a call from the ‘front desk’, it’s safer to take the short walk over to the receptionist to ensure everything is in order.
Lock Your Phone’s “Front Door”
Just like you wouldn’t leave your house unlocked, you should be using a strong password to lock your phone to intruders. This may seem like a very simple precaution to take, but it’s one of the best ways to keep your data safe. The safeguarding of the data on your phone or smart device can also be enhanced by disconnecting Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when not in use. Leaving these functions on gives those nearby easy access to your phone and the data inside it. We recommend turning off all geolocation features, too, as this lets thieves— from both home and away— keep an eye on your location.
Be On The Lookout For Fraud
Make a habit of checking bank and email accounts on a secured network during your holiday. This allows you to spot the fraudulent transactions early and put a stop to identity thieves. If you’re unsure if the network you’re using is secured, check for a small lock symbol in your browser’s address bar, and make sure the website URL begins with https, not the standard http.
Leave Devices At Home
The best way to keep your identity safe when traveling would be to leave any unnecessary devices at home. A laptop may seem like a great addition to your travel bag, but at the end of the day, it’s an extra device that you may have to leave in a hotel room. If it’s stolen, you may end up losing a lot more than just the device: your personal data will also be at risk. Although, these devices are a necessity in some cases, so take all the precautions you can against item and identity theft. Utilize your hotel room’s safe, and consider hiding your devices like laptops in a backpack rather than a designated laptop bag.
Use A VPN For Safer Browsing
A virtual private network (VPN) encrypts your outgoing data so that you can browse safely without giving away your location or browsing history. When using an unfamiliar network, a VPN can provide you with some extra assurance that your data is being kept private.
You may keep your passports and other sensitive documents in a secure hotel room safe, but with mobile fraud on the rise, it’s important to stay vigilant when we divulge our personal information online, too. Staying up to date with family, friends, and news and social media channels is a part of our daily lives, and if you’re mindful of how you’re using the internet while on holiday, you can still browse and share safely when away from home.