Tech safety tips for summer travel
(Family Features) Despite your best intentions to take time off for a relaxing getaway, chances are high that you’ll find it difficult to fully unplug from your digital devices. While you probably realize that staying connected prevents you from recharging, you may not be aware that it can also expose you to potential security risks.
In a recent survey by Intel Security, more than half (55 percent) of participants who intended to unplug from their digital devices on vacation were unsuccessful in doing so. The respondents revealed that practical reasons like access to online banking apps and tools, such as maps and search engines, are what keep people tethered to their smartphones.
If you’re like the majority of travelers who take their smartphones with them on vacation, it’s important to remain alert and prepared as pickpockets and thieves can target travelers and take advantage of large crowds and distractions. In addition, cybercriminals count on human and device vulnerabilities to provide them with a point of access to personal data, and summer vacations are often full of distractions and opportunities.
If you’re planning a trip and will have your mobile device on hand, keep these tips, from the experts at Intel Security, in mind to help protect your personal information and better guard yourself from online risks:
Back-up data: Losing your mobile device or having it stolen can easily happen while on vacation and it’s best to be prepared. Back-up your data to ensure that your personal photos and messages are safe and use a PIN or password to protect your data should it fall into the wrong hands.
Create social walls: Passing time at the airport can lead to posting updates from your mobile device. Whether it's checking in with your location or posting a silly selfie, criminals can use your social information to monitor when you're away and at your weakest point to defend against an attack, whether online or at a physical address they know is unoccupied.
Limit Wi-Fi and Bluetooth use: Although it may be tempting to preserve your data plan, switching to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi in lieu of your private data network can be a recipe for disaster. Connecting to unprotected Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices can expose your personal information to a cyber-criminal, especially if you're processing a payment over an unsecure network.
Give yourself a work “time-out”: Accessing work files on unprotected Bluetooth and Wi-Fi networks can be risky. Work related files can contain private company information that can jeopardize the digital security of a business. These files should not be accessed on public Wi-Fi, yet 47 percent of survey participants reported doing so while on vacation. If you do tap into Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, make sure you are connecting to a reputable source with the name of the business of where you are located such as “starbuckswifi.”
Check and monitor your accounts: Keep an eye out for suspicious activity in your bank account history. This is the only way to react quickly to potential fraud and know if your bank or credit card accounts have been compromised. Be meticulous about keeping track of your account activity to ensure that a criminal can’t use your account without your knowledge.
For more tips and advice to protect the security of your digital devices while traveling, visit Intel Security’s Consumer Blog at blogs.mcafee.com.