In today’s fast-paced world, portable devices such as smartphones and ultrathin laptops with long battery life are becoming the norm. At the same time, the once-popular desktop computer is losing popularity among the gig economy lifestyle preferred by the youth. However, even though today’s lightweight and capable devices are complemented by blazing-fast connectivity protocols such as 5G, things are not all sunshine and rainbows if you do not stay vigilant about your online activities on the go.
We may be fond of working on the move now, but so are the hackers. The tips below will inform you about different online threats and how to safeguard yourself against them so that you can work peacefully while keeping your data safe and sound.
1. Avoid Public WiFi
According to many case studies, public WiFi makes it easy for thieves to break into information stored on your phone or laptop. However, less than half of respondents avoid using public WiFi while traveling.
Even though most hotels and restaurants offer free public WiFi, using public WiFi, especially while you are traveling, is never recommended. So, if you wonder how, you can check your bank transactions or credit card statements- get yourself a portable router for WiFi hotspots. All you will need is a local data SIM card that can be purchased at an electronics store or airport kiosk. As the most effective online privacy safeguard, use a VPN while traveling to hide personal information such as social security numbers, credit card numbers, and passwords online.
2. Disable Geotagging
Did you know that Twitter and Instagram, as well as your iPhone, can tell you where you are? This is because both Twitter and Instagram use geotags on everything they post. Geotags store the latitude and longitude of any tweet or image. Photos that are taken with an iPhone usually also contain geotagging information. Of course, the less information you share about your location, the safer it is. So, consider disabling the default geotagging right from your device when you are in an unfamiliar crowd.
During the trip, you will go through many WiFi networks. If your phone is set to scan and connect automatically, you may be connected to a malicious network. Automatic connection is a helpful feature at home but not practical when traveling abroad. So, make sure you disable auto-connect your devices along with geotagging.
3. Do Not Use Cash or Debit Cards
Credit cards allow you to travel for less money. When shopping online, it is safer to provide your credit card information than your debit card information. The same goes for visiting local outlets. Why? Debit cards withdraw money straight from your bank account, so the potential charges from thieves are horrifying. The money runs out and remains until the bank investigates the misuse. And if you are experiencing identity theft, credit card laws allow you to keep all your credit without liability during an investigation. On the other hand, a debit card permits the bank to freeze the amount of a fraudulent transaction for up to 30 days.
Credit playing cards provide maximum safety in general, together with even traveling. Credit score playing cards aren’t related to your checking, or financial savings account, unlike debit playing cards. So, there’s no chance of a fraudster getting access to your funds. Neither debit nor credit score playing cards keeps customers answerable for fraudulent charges. However, fraud remains less challenging to cope with while cash hasn’t been deducted from your checking account.
4. Make All Bookings from Secure Websites
Keep in mind that only encrypted websites that start with “HTTPS” can guarantee secure surfing. If the “s” (for security) are missing, you can easily track your online activity. You can install HTTPS Everywhere as a browser extension that automatically selects a more secure website.
Also, peek for the lock icon near the location field in your browser. Protecting websites over SSL is no exception and standard, so it is common for web browsers to emphasize insecure websites as secure websites. If your website is insecure, you may see a lock icon with a strikethrough or “Insecure” text message.
The websites you visit must be secure, but you should always ensure that your website is legitimate before entering your username, password, or other personal information. For example, if you pay close attention to the URL of your website in the location field of your browser, you can be sure that you are visiting a legitimate website instead of a similar website.
5. Keep Your Bluetooth Turned Off
Bluetooth technology provides useful features from hands-free calling to wireless file sharing to playing music from your car’s speaker. However, keeping Bluetooth on can be dangerous, and hackers can use this technology to access personal information or distribute malicious software. Recently, a new airstrike was discovered by Armis, a security research firm called Blueborne, giving hackers complete access to the victim’s device without his knowledge. All Windows, Linux, Android, and iOS operating systems are vulnerable to this attack. In addition, attacks can be carried out on Bluetooth-enabled devices such as smartphones, smartwatches, laptops, PCs, smart TVs, or IoT devices.
Not just Blueborne, but also hackers can intercept your Bluetooth sign from some distance away. Bluetooth usually travels around 30 ft; however, it may be acquired from a hundred ft or more with unique antennas. So, hackers can make the most vulnerabilities in Bluetooth signals. And besides, turning Bluetooth on can also significantly consume your device’s battery energy. So, consider keeping your Bluetooth turned off if you’re not using it.
6. Use Disposable Email Accounts
In recent studies, it is estimated that about 60% of people use the same password or variations for all accounts. So, to prevent being hacked while traveling, you can use a temporary “disposable” email account to reduce headaches if your home account is compromised. Disposable email accounts are more effective when you’re on the go.
These email accounts are not permanent accounts like those found on Gmail, Outlook.com, Yahoo, and more.
So, since it’s usually an anonymous email account, you can sign up without your name, phone number, home address, and more. The original email address will not be shared with services or contacts when used correctly. If you sign up with a disposable email address, all communication will take place between your email address and your service provider. The relay service forwards the email to the “real” email address.
7. Limit the Use of non-bank-affiliated ATMs
Private ATMs have become an attractive target for cybercriminals around the world. It has been reported that malware is injected into ATMs via USB sticks, cash is paid out, network backends are hacked, and ATMs receive false instructions and release cash remotely. So, in short, ATMs are an attractive target for customers’ money and card data criminals. We know that traveling on cash alone is not an option for most people. Large amounts of money have their problems, but you can probably consider a mixed approach. Exchange some money into your local currency and always carry it with you before you leave.
Besides having cash on hand, buy some things online other than accommodation and plane tickets before your actual trip. Eventually, you can pay directly with your card, and you can do it without withdrawing cash from the ATM. Most people these days have a VISA or Mastercard, both of which can be used internationally at no significant additional charge. Make sure the company that pays with the card is reliable.
8. Use 2-Factor Authentication
Strong authentication is required to enhance cybersecurity for access to your account and online services, especially while traveling. Passwords alone can be easily guessed and phished, and if stolen, they are less protected as they are tried against many accounts for hits. Passwords have always been weak due to the progressive nature of hacking and the general frustration of creating and using passwords.
Unfortunately, to remember all the passwords, many of us choose simple passwords that are easy to guess in the worst case. In addition, password reuse allows for credential stuffing. Credentials are often entered into various digital services by automated systems or programs. Large-scale attacks of this type can result in people reusing the same credentials, leaving many accounts vulnerable to security breaches and hijackings.
Cybercriminals find it easier to guess passwords, so two-factor authentication becomes more crucial than ever. Adding extra steps to web browsing can seem tedious, but adding these two additional steps for account access causes thieves to have problems accessing your personal information. For example, adding a knowledge factor to your bank account will prevent cybercriminals who know your password from accessing your account without your mobile when receiving the verification code.
9. Keep Internet Security Software Updated
All computers and Internet users should have the latest antivirus software program installed on their computers, regardless of why they are online. Most of these programs are already installed on your computer and are free. However, antivirus software is essential for safe and uninterrupted internet browsing while you are traveling. It also plays a vital role in computer security by preventing critical documents and files from being corrupted or permanently lost.
Internet security software also provides real-time threat detection and safely removes malicious files from your device. However, standard antivirus protection for desktop computers may not be sufficient to protect users from the most common software vulnerabilities in the ever-changing IT world. So, take the time and effort to upgrade your antivirus program before or while traveling.
10. Maintain Data Backups
Data backup is one of the most secure approaches to steady your documents and information proactively. The purpose of the backup is to make a copy of the data to restore in the event of a primary data failure. Prior data errors can result from hardware or software failures, data corruption, crashes, malicious attacks, or accidental deletion of data. Backup copies let you restore your data quickly and recover your business from unplanned events.
Furthermore, by keeping all your data backup, it’s on your palms to take the initiative to continually shield yourself from costly downtime in case of any cyberattack. The best reason to back up your data is to securely archive important information such as classified bank or business documents, valuable tax reporting or financial data, spreadsheets, etc., so that you can quickly restore your device in case of any data loss or system crashes.
11. Freeze Your Credit for New Accounts
A credit score freeze, or safety freeze, blocks organizations from making new questions to get the right of entry to your credit score document. Your credit score document incorporates facts about your fee records that lenders and creditors use to choose whether to supply you with the right of entry or to your credit score.
So, when you are traveling, credit freezes prevent you from accessing the report to open a new credit account. In addition, when you freeze your credit score record, lenders and creditors can’t pull your credit score record or credit score. Since a credit score test is a demand for maximum creditors or lenders, packages for credit scores might be denied. In addition, a credit score freeze makes it an awful lot more difficult for identity thieves to open fraudulent debts for your name.
Still, there are several reasons why you can access the credit report even if you have an active credit freeze. For example, you can continue to access your credit report. In addition, your credit report may also be seen as part of a background check by the landlord, the collection agency you are borrowing money from, and for employment purposes, to name a few examples.
12. Lastly, But Most Importantly, Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Cybersecurity is often overlooked when planning a trip, from stolen credit card numbers to government spies to hacked emails. VPN (Virtual Private Network) provides privacy and anonymity by creating a private network from a public internet connection. In short, they hide your online behavior, along with passwords, credit card numbers, browser cookies, and other identifying information.
This makes them virtually untraceable and prevents potential thieves from accessing your personal information. The important thing here is that it is unique. The connection is not visible to the WiFi network you are logged in to with a VPN. In addition, the IP address is hidden, so hackers can’t track the exact location.
Using a fast and secure VPN app while traveling means you have an additional layer of security because you have a private and secure connection. And all thanks to VPN, your data is encrypted before leaving the device and remains encrypted until it reaches the VPN provider’s server. So, your information is decrypted and sent over the open internet to its final destination, only when you allow it to.
When you travel, especially on vacation, your focus is usually on relaxing and enjoying your time. But unfortunately, it’s easy to forget the importance of cybersecurity for everyday things like logging in to social media channels and checking bank accounts, but this is how cyber criminals intercept your information.
So having a VPN that connects automatically is the key to consistent internet use while traveling, as the most effective online safety gear. And with a blazing-fast VPN service provider, you can securely connect to your public network without worrying about third-party snoops when you are out having a good time with your travel pals.
Along with the online safety tips, we should not forget offline safety, especially in the age of coronavirus, check out the travel safety tips to avoid possible risks.
Author – Aynun Nipa, An expert Digital Marketing Specialist having 6+ years of extensive experience in different digital marketing channels and the advertising industry. I am passionate to help B2B companies achieve organic growth and acquire new customers through data-driven content marketing. Web design is another passion for sure.