Using Technology Safely While Traveling
It’s officially trade show season in the promo industry! From Orlando to Las Vegas, people are traveling all over to connect with other industry professionals and learn new things. Whether you're traveling for work or pleasure, there are some simple guidelines you can follow to safeguard your privacy and protect your sensitive data and devices.
Before you leave...
You never know what might happen while you're away. Your phone, laptop, or tablet could be lost or stolen. When you're preparing for your trip, think about which devices you really need to take and only take what you think you’ll need.
Hopefully you're set up to run backups of the data stored on the devices that you decide to take with you. Running full backups in advance of your trip will ensure that, if anything happens to one or more of them, you'll at least have a recent backup that will allow you to recover your data later.
You may also want to set up the remote wipe feature on your Android or iPhone so that, if it is lost or stolen, you'll have the ability to wipe it and remove your sensitive data and account information before it falls into the wrong hands. If you don't know how to set up remote wipe, a quick online search will yield many results with easy-to-follow instructions.
Before you leave, update your laptop and any other devices you'll be taking to ensure that any available security patches have been applied to remove vulnerabilities and that you are running the latest version of your antivirus and malware protection.
Consider installing virtual private network (VPN) apps on all your devices. A VPN protects your privacy and identity as well as encrypts all the data being sent or received by your device. You may need to connect to unsecured public Wi-Fi networks while you travel and those are inherently unsafe. A VPN will significantly increase the security of that connection.
If you'll be traveling for work, you may need to brush up in advance on policies relating to remote connections to company resources, use of personal devices for business, keeping company-owned devices secure, and how to access the resources you might need while you're away.
Traveling with phones and tablets
Portable devices are much more likely to be lost than they are to be stolen. Getting into the habit of checking to make sure you have your phone or tablet with you each time you leave a plane, train, restaurant, cab, or hotel room will lessen the likelihood of it being misplaced. Remind your travel companions to check for their devices, too!
Make sure screen lock is enabled on your devices and that it is set to automatically activate after thirty seconds or so of inactivity. That way, if it is lost or stolen and you also have remote wipe enabled, you'll have more time to remove your sensitive information before it can be exposed. Screen locks also limit the opportunities for "shoulder surfers" to get a peek at what might be on your screen.
More about public Wi-Fi
While it may be necessary to do so as you travel, when you connect to a public Wi-Fi network at a coffee shop, hotel, RV park or elsewhere, you are putting your sensitive data and your devices at risk. Cyber criminals often set up malicious networks with names very similar to those you might expect to find at a given location in order to trick people into using them. The bad actors then monitor traffic and examine the connected devices looking for opportunities to steal information or install malware. Technology is also readily available to hackers that will allow them to monitor legitimate public Wi-Fi networks and intercept sensitive data on those as well.
If you have a good, strong cell signal, you can avoid connecting your laptop or tablet to public Wi-Fi by using the Wi-Fi hotspot feature available on most phones. Turn on your hotspot and follow the instructions for connecting. You'll have an Internet connection free from the risks associated with public Wi-Fi.
If you must connect to a public network, either use a VPN or avoid logging into any accounts, shopping online, or entering any sensitive information like payment card details. If you're not using a VPN, limit your use of public Wi-Fi to harmless activities like checking the weather and travel conditions or reading the news.
Beware of public computers
You may find a public use computer in your hotel lobby, a library, or a coffee shop. You have no way of knowing who has used that computer or whether it has been infected with malware that may include a keylogger. Keyloggers record every keystroke and transmit the information to a cybercriminal who will analyze it to find information like account login credentials and payment card information users may have keyed in. Unless you absolutely must use a public computer, don't do it. If you do, never enter any sensitive information.
Watch what you post on social media
Criminals mine social media sites looking for opportunities and information they can use. If you're about to take a trip, it is a bad idea to post information about your travel plans. You have no way of knowing who might read it. "People search" sites have made it easy for bad actors to find out things like the home addresses of potential victims, so even if you haven't posted that information on your social media site, posting your travel schedule or images from your ongoing trip could still lead to your home being burglarized while you're away. Or perhaps you've previously posted information about where you work. If you later post details of an upcoming business trip, criminals could leverage that information to perpetrate an impersonation scam while you're gone and gain access to your company's network using your identity.
It's simply a bad idea to overshare on social media, especially when you travel. Avoid posting images of things like passports, boarding passes, or other documents that include information about your identity. Otherwise, you might later find that your identity has been stolen as a result.
Prepare accordingly for work before you leave on your trip to ensure that you take only what you need, that your devices and sensitive data are protected, and that you will be able to securely access the resources you'll need while you're away. Once you're on your way, use public Wi-Fi only when necessary and implement the recommendations provided to do so safely. Avoid using public computers altogether. And finally, watch what you post on social media before you leave and while you travel because you never know who may be reading it!
Will you be travelling this month? Stop in and say hi to our team at the PPAI show in Las Vegas January 10 – 13, 2022, we’d love to catch up!