Staying cyber safe on summer vacation

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Summer is here and many travelers are busy packing cell phones, tablets and other connected devices into their luggage along with sunscreen and books.

Please keep in mind that cyber criminals are waiting for you to go on vacation as well.

They troll social media sites to learn who is traveling and have left their home unoccupied. They also tap public Wi-Fi networks to steal personal information and even place bogus charging stations in public locations to load malware onto your electronics.

Here are some tips to help keep you safe while traveling, from our partners at the National Cyber Security Alliance and the Multi-State Information Sharing & Analysis Center (MS-ISAC):

Keep your devices updated.  Software updates not only contain new features, they can also fix security flaws and help keep you protected.  And don’t forget those 3rd party applications, they need to remain current too.

Lock down your login: Your usernames and passwords are not enough to protect key accounts like those you use for email, banking and social media. Fortify your online security by turning on multifactor authentication (MFA) when available. This typically pairs your username and password with a message sent to your phone.

Password/Passcode: Use a passcode or security feature like a finger swipe pattern or fingerprint to lock your mobile device. Also, set your screen to lock after a short amount of time by default. 

Public Wi-Fi: Do not transmit personal information or make purchases on unsecure public networks. Instead, use your phone as a personal Wi-Fi hot spot (if your carrier’s plan allows) for a more secure internet connection.

Avoid public charging stations: Plug your own charger into a wall socket, or take a spare battery to recharge your mobile devices instead of using public charging stations. Cyber-criminals can secretly modify USB ports to install malware on your phone or steal your data. 

Turn off Wi-Fi: Turn off your Wi-Fi while traveling and set your device to ask your permission before connecting to a wireless network. This will prevent your phone from automatically connecting to an unsecure wireless network.

Share with care: Think twice before posting pictures that signal you are out of town. Knowing you are away from home is a great piece of information for a criminal to have and they may target your home. Also consider limiting your social media apps’ access to location services on your device, and omit location information while making your posts and sharing your pictures.

Know your destination’s laws: If you are heading out of the country, check up on any specific laws on internet and device usage. Additionally, bring as few devices as possible and consider using a device specifically purchased for international travel.

Protect your credit cards: Use radio-frequency identification (RFID) blocking sleeves or wallets to prevent skimming of account information from credit cards with embedded RFID chips.