Summer is a great time to travel. But it’s also when online thieves are looking to steal your data away from home.
So while having your smartphone or tablet stolen while on a trip might cost you hundreds of dollars for a replacement, losing the information stored on those devices could cost you far more.
According to Reader’s Digest, old fashioned pickpockets are still a major risk when traveling to popular destinations. They congregate where distracted people are carrying plenty of cash and small valuables. Operating in teams, they target obvious tourists, relieving them of wallets, cameras, and portable electronics.
That’s bad enough.
But now with so many convenient apps on our devices, including shopping, banking, and sensitive information storage, losing a smartphone could give thieves access to your accounts back home.
Travel Raises Your Risk
According to security experts at Princeton University, just the act of traveling can pose significant risks to information stored on or accessible through computers, tablets and smartphones.
“Some of the risk is associated with increased opportunities for the loss or theft of the device and just merely the distraction of traveling. Additionally, our devices are put at risk because they will use networks that may be managed by entities that monitor and capture network traffic for competitive or malicious purposes.”
But that’s no reason to stay home. If you follow basic safety procedures (things you should be doing anyway), you can protect yourself and your data.
8 Ways To Make Sure Your Devices and Data Are Secure
The Norton computer and data safety company has compiled a list of eight tips.
1. Lock Devices Down With A PIN
Most smartphones, laptops, and tablets come equipped with security settings that allow you to lock the device using a PIN number or fingerprint ID. Do this on every available device.
2. Be Cautious of Public Wi-Fi
Free Wi-Fi access is particularly vulnerable to security issues. Avoid unencrypted Wi-Fi networks and ask your hotel about its security protocol before connecting to the Web. Be extra cautious using Internet cafes and free Wi-Fi hotspots. However, if you must use them, avoid accessing personal accounts or sensitive data while connected.
3. Disable Auto-Connect
Most phones in the US have a setting that allows a device to automatically connect to Wi-Fi networks as you pass through them. Before you travel, change this setting so that your smartphone and laptop must be manually connected each time you wish to access the internet.
4. Minimize Location Sharing On Social Media
Just by posting about your every location, you make it easy for a criminal to determine that you’re not in your hotel room or at your home, leaving your personal belongings within these areas vulnerable to a physical intrusion.
5. Install Anti-Virus Protection
In addition to using a trusted brand of security, make sure that you regularly update this software as new versions become available.
6. Update Operating Systems
Just like your anti-virus software, you should keep your operating system as current as possible. Also, take special care to update apps that you regularly use to conduct financial or personal business.
7. Update Passwords
Before you leave, change all of the passwords you regularly use. Once you return home, you can change all the passwords back.
8. Disable Bluetooth Connectivity
If your Bluetooth is left on, nearby assailants can connect to your phone and potentially hack into your device. Keep Bluetooth disabled as much as possible while traveling abroad.
You don’t need to travel to far flung locations to put your data at risk. Thieves are just as happy to steal your information close to home. Take proactive steps to secure your devices and how you access information away from home to help make your summer trips are the fun rather than frustration.
A very safe and happy summer to all of you!