You’ve got your bags packed and plane tickets in hand. You feel all set and ready for your big trip, so make one last check to see if you forgot anything. At this juncture, it’s important to think about whether you’re leaving home without having set up some crucial defenses against malware, identity theft and online surveillance.
In decades past, going out of the house meant leaving your digital existence behind on a PC hard drive. Not anymore. Now that mobile devices are the main ways many people connect to the internet, there’s much more cybersecurity risk while traveling.
Actions such as giving away your location or connecting to public wireless networks at airports or hotels can endanger your privacy and make you vulnerable to scams. What should you do to reduce your exposure? Start by checking all the settings on your smartphone, tablet or laptop:
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
Once you’re on the go, it’s a good idea to turn off Wi-Fi and possibly Bluetooth as well, unless you are connecting to a trusted network/accessory like in-vehicle Wi-Fi or a pair of Bluetooth headphones. There’s several advantages to doing so:
- You’ll save battery since your device won’t constantly be looking for connections.
- You’ll stop auto-connecting to unencrypted networks.
- You’ll avoid letting someone send you unsolicited content via services like AirDrop on iOS.
Sharing your location might seem like a great idea to keep your friends and family updated about your whereabouts, but it’s also potentially dangerous. You might be letting strangers know you aren’t home and in turn giving them an opening to ransack your home or hotel for valuables.
Try to conserve as much battery as possible while traveling. It’ll not only save you the hassle of having to frequently recharge, but will also save you from potentially risky public charging stations. There’s often no way to tell if these connectors have been compromised to load malware onto your device or record all actions you complete while connected. Set your device to battery-saving mode and bring your own external charging pack for good measure.
A virtual private network (VPN) ensures you have a secure connection no matter where you are. If you feel like you need to use the public or hotel Wi-Fi somewhere, consider logging into a VPN service first to make sure your activity is fully encrypted.
With these settings locked down, it’s time to think about other measures you can do to stay safe, including but not limited to:
- Installing antivirus software: Antivirus solutions like Total Defense Anti-Virus ensure that you’re automatically protected against a wide range of known threats.
- Creating a complex device PIN: A passcode is essential for preventing someone from having easy access to all your data if your device is ever lost or stolen.
- Backing up everything beforehand: What if you drop your phone into a pool while on vacation? Having full backup of your data in multiple places will reduce the fallout. A solution like Total Defense Premium provides peace of mind.
- Applying software updates and patches: It’s recommended to update all of your operating systems and applications to the latest versions before traveling. That way, you aren’t vulnerable to exploitation of any known flaws that already have available fixes.
Cybersecurity is an essential part of traveling today, so don’t leave home without giving yourself the best possible protection. Check out our security tip of the day page today, to learn more about our solutions for antivirus, data backup and general cybersecurity.