Experian tells us that to date, 15 million Americans have been victims of identity theft, and 33% of those victims had their devices hacked while traveling. While things like booking a hotel, mapping out your route, planning your itinerary, and packing are likely on your preparation list, cyber safety may not be. But by taking a few precautions before you leave and following some best practices while you travel, you can increase the likelihood of a mayhem-free vacation.
Before You Go:
- Protect your device: Update security software on all of your mobile devices. It may not stop everything, but it’s a great first line of defense.
- Step up your login game: You need more than the old username/password combo to protect accounts like email, banking and social media. There are strong authentication tools available now, like biometrics, security keys and a unique one-time code through an app on your mobile device. Enable them.
- Make sure all devices are password protected: In the event your device is lost or stolen, set up a passcode or security feature (such as a pattern) to lock your mobile device.
- Take app inventory: Review all the apps on your mobile devices. Understand what data (such as location and social network access) each app can access on your device. Turn off location tracking and delete apps you’re no longer using.
After You Arrive:
Once you arrive at your destination, be sure to:
- Proactively manage location services: Location tools can expose your location to anyone. Turn off location services when not in use.
- Only use secure WiFi: Do not transmit personally identifiable information (PII) or make purchases on unsecure networks. Instead, use the mobile hotspot on your phone or a virtual private network (VPN).
- Unless you’re using them, turn off WiFi and Bluetooth: When WiFi and Bluetooth are on, they connect and track your whereabouts. If you do not need them, switch them off.
- Shop wisely: If you’re going to conduct transactions online, only use secure sites. You can identify them by their web addresses, which will start with “https://” or “shttp://”. A site that starts with “http://” is not secure.
- Don’t use public computers to log in to any accounts: If you have to use public computers (such as in airports and hotels), do not log in to any of your accounts. Use these computers only for generic, anonymous surfing.
- Wait to post: Wait until you get home to post pictures and status updates on social media. Not only do they reveal your whereabouts, they signal your home is vacant and ripe for the picking!
Take your cyber-savviness with you wherever you go, and you’ll hopefully make memories rather than become a victim. Be sure to check out our other cybersecurity resources and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter for more cyber tips for traveling.
Written by: Sarah Nicholas
Sarah is the Director of Communications for Serendipity Communications. She lives in Plainwell, Michigan with her husband, daughters and stepson, with twin stepdaughters nearby. She is passionate about cyber safety education for children and enjoys ballet dancing, reading and volunteering at her children’s school.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Ameris Bank does not endorse nor is affiliated with the companies listed in this article.