Summer is here, which means it’s time to travel and enjoy vacations. But working or even just surfing the web while traveling often means using public Wi-Fi at hotels, coffee shops, or airports. As a result, travelers become an easy target for hackers to access sensitive information, resulting in an increased risk of fraud and identity theft.
In 2020 alone, about 330 million people across ten countries—including the U.S.—became victims of cybercrime, and 55 million of them were victims of identity theft. These statistics translate to a staggering number of cybercrime victims worldwide.
In today’s interconnected world, it’s more important than ever to stay vigilant about cyber security. That’s especially true when traveling, as you may be using unfamiliar networks and devices. By following a few simple steps, you can help to ensure that your data remains safe and secure, no matter where you are.
Protection Against Public Wi-Fi
People use public Wi-Fi all the time; at a coffee shop, in a hotel lobby, or while waiting at the airport. However, many security dangers lurk on public Wi-Fi networks. Public Wi-Fi is open to anyone, making them one of the biggest threats to cyber security. Cybercriminals can easily infiltrate and intercept data sent through even a supposedly secured public Wi-Fi network.
Cybercriminals and hackers can also use public Wi-Fi connections to distribute malware. They can plant viruses and other malicious software onto unsuspecting users’ devices via an unsecured Wi-Fi connection, causing severe damage to your computer and jeopardizing your personal information.
Luckily there are ways to stay safe on public Wi-Fi. Follow these tips to stay protected while surfing on the go:
- Use a VPN: If you need to check sensitive data like your banking account on public Wi-Fi, use a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN prevents attackers from eavesdropping on digital communications or infecting the integrity of those communications. Even if a cybercriminal does attempt to access your connection, your data will be strongly encrypted. Norton 360 with LifeLock is an all-in-one cyber security platform with a no-log-in VPN feature that helps you browse safely from anywhere.
- Verify Your Connection: One threat many travelers aren’t aware of is fake public Wi-Fi networks. These have similar-sounding names to legitimate public Wi-Fi networks and are meant to trick users into logging on to unsecured connections. Once you connect to this fake Wi-Fi network, everything you do online is monitored by cybercriminals who scan your activity for banking, social media login information, and more. Ask an employee what the actual public Wi-Fi is to avoid connecting to a bogus network.
- Avoid Checking Sensitive Data: If you aren’t certain that you have a secure network, don’t access sensitive information unless absolutely necessary. Avoid logging into your social media, email, and especially financial accounts while on public Wi-Fi, unless you’re utilizing a VPN on your device.
- Turn Off Sharing: Make sure to turn off sharing while on public Wi-Fi. Leaving your Wi-Fi on while in a public place will allow cybercriminals to more easily access sensitive personal information and files.
- Turn Off Wi-Fi: Even if you are not actively connected to a network, the Wi-Fi hardware can still transmit data with any network in range. If you are not using the internet, ensure that your Wi-Fi is turned off. This is especially important on mobile devices like smartphones, which you may not realize have connected to the Wi-Fi until it’s too late.
Enhance Social Media Security
Who doesn’t love flooding their Instagram feed with enviable travel pictures? Many of us today are in the habit of oversharing on social media. It is awesome to share your experiences online, but doing so may compromise your safety, including both on the web and off.
Here are five critical social media safety tips every traveler needs to know:
- Turn Off Location: Sharing live locations on social media makes it easier for potential thieves and hackers to time a crime. Don’t tag your live location on stories, and always turn off geotagging on pictures. Wait to share your travel pictures until after you return home.
- Don’t Overshare: It may be tempting to share every detail of your trip on social media, but think twice before doing so. Be wary of sharing vacation posts. While you show everyone how much fun you are having, it gives criminals an open invitation to your empty home.
- Limit Access to Data: Limit the social media site’s access to your data. When you play a game or take a quiz on social media, you often give third party access to your data which hackers can easily steal.
- Privacy Settings: Understanding your privacy settings is essential for staying safe on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Review your privacy settings and lock off of your accounts when not in use. Unless you are a social media influencer who makes money by posting content, don’t leave your accounts public.
- Two-factor Authentication: Setup two-factor authentication on your accounts, especially email accounts, banking apps, and social media apps for extra security.
- Have Unique Passwords: Create a password that uses lowercase and uppercase letters, a number, and a unique character. While this may seem overkill, it will protect your accounts from getting hacked. Create a new password for all your accounts, and don’t use the same password for more than one. If you use the same password once and one account is compromised, the hacker can access all of your accounts. This tip applies to all online accounts, especially business and financial accounts.
Protect Your Devices
When you are traveling, many things can go wrong with your devices. For instance, you can lose your luggage, get robbed, or have your hotel room broken into. Travelers are also vulnerable because they don’t have the backup drive that they might have at home or at the office.
Here are a few tips to protect your devices when you are on the go:
- Minimization: Only take tje devices you need on your trip. Invest in a budget-friendly mobile phone or laptop exclusively for traveling, if you can. These devices should only have a small amount of data like the applications and information you need access to during the trip.
- Password Protection: When it comes to any portable device, ensure that it is encrypted. Always use a strong pin/password to protect your electronic devices so if somebody steals them, they cannot easily and quickly access your data.
- Backup: Backing up your data is crucial in general. If you lose your computer or mobile phone, you are in a rough spot — even worse when you are on the road. Therefore, you should backup your devices regularly. So, if you are on a business trip and lose your device, the backup will save your important work ot data.
- Update Antivirus Software: Make sure all your devices, including your laptop, tablet, and smartphone, have updated anti-virus and anti-malware software.
- Enable Find My Device:Another way to increase digital security while traveling is by enabling the Find My Device feature on your phone. This Apple device feature allows you to locate, lock, or erase your device data if it gets lost or stolen.
Invest in Protection
People spend a significant portion of their lives online today. From communicating through tweets, texts, and emails to shopping, playing games, banking, and planning travel, the internet has become a necessary part of our lives. Unfortunately, the mass adaptation of the internet also led to a surge in the number of hackers, cybercriminals, bullies, and troublemakers looking for negligent and vulnerable targets.
Sometimes even with the best security measures, you cannot prevent cyberattacks like unauthorized access to confidential data. So, travelers or not, everyone should invest in a robust digital security suite to prevent these risks and minimize the impact of a breach.
Norton 360 is one of the best online safety platforms, with a wide range of security features. It offers other tools that can help protect your devices and personal information; these include online threat protection, anti-virus spyware, cloud backup, smart firewall, identity alerts, dark web monitoring, wallet protection, and much more. Invest in Norton 360 for complete protection against digital threats while on the go and at home.
Staying Safe on the Go
The last thing you may want to do during your fun, relaxing vacation is worry about your cybersecurity. But making a few smart moves ahead of time, and following the tips outlined above, can save you a lot of time, money, stress, and hassle later on. Whether you’re traveling for work or leisure, investing in online security can help protect your personal and work data while you’re on the go.
Nothing brings a fun trip to a halt faster than discovering that a cybercriminal has hacked your social media or bank account. Don’t let cybercrime ruin your run! Get Norton 360 with LifeLock to stay safe online while on the go!