Cybersecurity Tips Newsletter
May 13, 2024

Add Cybersecurity to Your Vacation Checklist

Add Cybersecurity to Your Vacation Checklist

Many of us are finalizing summer travel plans and looking forward to a bit of fun and relaxation. Whether you are flying across continents or embarking on a road trip to explore America, make sure you incorporate cybersecurity into your travel plans. We all deserve a break, but cybercriminals don’t take vacations. Take note of the following tips so that your dream vacation doesn’t turn into a nightmare:

  • Secure your digital footprint. Limit the information you share online while traveling. Broadcasting your precise location through geotagging or sharing your daily travel itinerary on social media can attract threat actors. Even if you are careful about privacy on your accounts, there is no way to truly know who is viewing your information. Wait until you are home to share how much fun you had while on vacation.
  • Book transportation and hotel rooms carefully. Phishing scams are increasingly common, and travelers are particularly susceptible to fake deals, especially if they advertise steep discounts. Always exercise vigilance when clicking on links or downloading attachments, especially in unsolicited emails or messages from contacts you don’t recognize. When in doubt, verify the authenticity of the sender before opening an email and clicking embedded links. Consider booking directly with hotels or airlines through their official websites or make arrangements through a verified travel agent.
  • Be aware of the dangers of public networks and consider using a VPN. While free Wi-Fi may be tempting, exercise caution when connecting to public networks. Cybercriminals can intercept your sensitive data on these open networks with ease. Consider using a virtual private network (VPN) on your device to encrypt your internet connection, shielding your information from prying eyes. Before traveling, do some research on VPN services, and be wary of free VPNs as they may sell your information. Look for a paid VPN service with good reviews from outside sources that you trust.
  • Avoid public computers. Public computers in airports and hotels may seem convenient, but they can harbor many dangers, including malware. When traveling for work, bring your own device with VPN enabled. When traveling for recreation, consider waiting until you are home to complete whatever needs to be done; after all, you are on vacation!
  • Back up your memories. Preserve your cherished travel memories by regularly backing up your data to secure cloud storage or external hard drives. In the unfortunate event of theft or loss, having backups ensures your memories remain intact.
  • Stay informed to stay protected. Familiarize yourself with the cybersecurity landscape of your destination. Research prevalent scams or cyberthreats in the region, empowering yourself with knowledge to prevent potential attacks. Thieves are just as interested in your digital assets as they are your wallet.
  • Update, update, update. Before setting foot outside your door, ensure all your devices are protected with the latest software updates. These updates often contain vital security patches, fortifying your defenses against cyberthreats lurking in the digital world. Ensure that your third-party applications are updated, as well. Enable automatic updates so you will be covered with the latest security patches even while on the go.
  • Limit the number of devices you bring. Most of us have multiple smart devices, including mobile phones, tablets, smart watches. These devices can all present a major issue if they are lost. Try to limit your devices to only those most necessary for your trip. Keep all devices within arm’s reach at all times or lock them away when not in use. Enable a screen lock with a strong password and multifactor authentication (MFA) when available. Review available settings for remote tracking and remote wipe in the unfortunate event you do lose a device.
  • Bring your own charger. We’ve all been there: battery power is running low on a device while you are waiting for the next leg of travel. You reach into your bag only to find you forgot to pack a charger! Rest stops, airports, train stations and many other travel hubs offer free charging stations. While these may seem convenient, they can be compromised by bad actors to pull information off victims’ phones or install malware. Only charge your device with a charger plugged directly into an electric wall outlet. This may mean having to spend a few extra dollars to buy a charger from a store while you are traveling but protecting your personally identifiable information (PII) is worth the expense.
  • Avoid auto connections. Many devices actively seek to connect to available Wi-Fi networks or allow your device to connect wirelessly via Bluetooth with other devices, like headphones or infotainment systems in vehicles. This could allow unwanted devices to access your data, so it is best to toggle them off when in public.
  • Shield your credit cards and test credit card scanners. Store your credit cards in a radio-frequency identification (RFID) blocking sleeve or wallet to block cybercriminals trying to scan account information off credit cards with embedded RFID chips. Use caution when using ATMs or card readers, and check for odd or loose attachments hanging out of the reader. Criminals can install their own credit card skimmers over legitimate readers that can steal your card’s information, especially at self-serve payment terminals, such as at a gas pump. If something looks or feels unusual, do not use that reader and alert an employee.

Planning a trip can be overwhelming, but using a bit of caution and forethought will allow you to travel with confidence, knowing your data is secure. Bon voyage!


Additional Resources


Cybersecurity Habit of the Month

This month’s cybersecurity habit is using multifactor authentication whenever available. MFA is a security feature that requires two or more unique factors to verify a user’s identity. MFA allows for much better defense against cyber criminals, and it is easy to enable. For more information on MFA and how to enable it on your accounts, visit our MFA webpage and follow #MFAMay on social media.