Do you love traveling? Even if not, you still have to get to other cities and countries now and again – for work, to visit your grandmother, to attend a friend’s wedding. And in the mad rush to buy a ticket and get to the station or airport on time,
it’s all too easy to overlook cybersecurity. How to protect your devices when traveling? We’ll take a look in this lesson.
Let’s start with some obvious but fundamental rules: do not leave things unattended, lock your door if staying in a hotel, and use safes if available. You can also buy a backpack with anti-theft protection – these are made of tough multilayer materials
that are difficult to cut through, while the zippers are located on the inside, out of sight. To put it briefly, the physical security of your devices is the first priority.
These measures will greatly reduce the risk of theft, but not, sadly, eliminate it completely. For example, someone might just grab your phone in the street, or you might misplace it yourself.
If this happens, it is important to ensure that outsiders cannot get inside it and use your personal data (photos, messages, etc.) to blackmail you, for example. For this, set a strong screen-unlock password or PIN code, or create a biometric key
using a fingerprint.
You can also try to track the device remotely, and, in case of theft, block or erase all data from it. If you have Android, you can use Google’s Find My Device app; for iOS, use the special built-in Find My iPhone feature (you can find more details
about them in lessons 3 and 4). Many security solutions, such as Kaspersky Internet Security for Android, provide similar capabilities.
Laptops should be encrypted – Bitlocker for Windows, FileVault for Mac. They will keep data from prying eyes if ever you lose possession of your computer.
Need to check-in online and the nearest place with free Wi-Fi is a café round the corner? Be warned: public networks are a favorite haunt of cybercriminals. So be sure to use a VPN – this will encrypt data sent and received by your device, including
usernames/passwords from social network accounts, passport details, bank and other confidential data. Even if an intruder intercepts your data, all they will get is an unreadable set of characters.
But remember that in some countries VPNs are prohibited by law. So we advise finding out in advance whether the technology is allowed where you are going.
If not, it’s better not to risk using a VPN, of course, but that is still no reason to trust public Wi-Fi. Instead, use mobile Internet. But don’t forget: abroad, mobile data is usually expensive, so if you haven’t set up a special service or tariff
with your operator, try to postpone non-urgent tasks (like publishing photos) until you get back home.
Incidentally, brushing up on the laws of the country you’re headed to, including cyberspace rules, is generally a very good idea. In some countries, for instance, posting inappropriate comments or photos on social networks can earn you a fine or deportation,
or even land you in jail.
But back to flight check-in and other important online matters. So you’ve located a secure network or turned on your VPN – now you can breathe easy. Or can you? Cybercriminals love to set up fake websites of airlines, hotels, and popular aggregators,
so always be on your guard. To learn how to distinguish a phishing site from the real one, see lesson 6 of the security course. A security solution like Kaspersky Internet Security can also assist, but vigilance is still crucial.
One other tip: never post images of tickets, especially with barcodes. For one thing, an attacker can copy the barcode, paste it into an electronic form, and use your ticket. And second, the ticket will show the precise dates of your trip – and that’s
an open invitation to burglars. For that same reason, we advise against posting sunny pictures of you on the beach with geotags and captions like: “Here’s me in the Canaries, 10 more days to go!”
To round out the picture, let’s imagine an entirely different vacation. Suppose you decide to take a break from the modern world, leave your smartphone/laptop at home, and only occasionally go online from a public computer in an Internet café or hotel
to check the bus schedule, buy tickets for an excursion, or check-in for a flight. Sure, you can view as many schedules as you like, but don’t even consider entering things like passport numbers or bank card data.
Cybercriminals might have pre-infected the device with malware or spyware to intercept user data. Maybe it’s not such a bad idea to take a smartphone with you and use it only if necessary?
Have a safe trip!
What should you NOT do when preparing for a trip?