Protecting data, devices, and info while travelling (abroad or otherwise)
The dangers towards personal online safety are various and numerous. From phishing to ransomware, we’ve all got something to stress over when accessing online networks. However, during travel – for personal or business – these concerns are greatly magnified. Travel security is just as important as regular digital safety, but gets overlooked. That’s because we’re not thinking about our “usual” routine during travel, so certain aspects of our life get pushed to the wayside.
Cybersecurity concerns is one of those aspects. However, it’s a critical thing to maintain, regardless of where you are, or where you’re going.
What risks are there while travelling?
Travelling is used for time off, visiting friends and family, or business. While we’re on the road, though, all our usual comforts and routines are put to the side. We don’t have access to the things we’re used to, including mental habits. So, when it comes to cybersecurity, the risks can be as follows:
- Potentially losing a device or devices
- Access public networks without proper security on devices
- Leaving devices unattended and risk of potential theft
- Damage to device(s) thanks to different conditions, dropping, static, or weather
You know how hectic and stressful it is when planning a trip. Trying to keep up with smaller details that don’t involve travel costs, hotel stays, transport, airline tickets, and other complications just isn’t on the forefront of someone’s concentration. Sadly, this is where cyber criminals can make their move. Exploiting unsecured networks or snatching unguarded devices all escalate the potential dangers of cybercrime while travelling.
What are the potential consequences?
Much like any breach event, the fallout from a compromised device while on travel can be severe. For instance, if you lose an important device, the data is taken too. An unsecured device, like a smartphone, contains everything from personal media to access to apps. That can be used in ransomware campaigns, or worse.
Furthermore, the device(s) will need replacement, and they’re never cheap. Laptops, smartphones, or tablets will typically need several hundred dollars to replace, and, that doesn’t include the recovery period for software, apps, and data. For professional uses, that damage could extend to things like downtime and data related to the business network. In short, there’s a dire need to protect devices while on the go, as you don’t want to risk the consequences of not doing so.
Other Setbacks of Online Travelling
Another potential roadblock you can encounter while travelling is accessibility, or lack thereof. If you’re taking a flight outside of your country, say outside the United States, you might not have access to the same websites while abroad. In rare cases, that can present a security concern. For casual travel, not having access to certain websites proves frustrating.
Reducing Cyber Risk During Travel
Now comes the important part, how do you dissuade would be hackers from pilfering your information while travelling? How can you protect your data/devices? The good news is, as long as you practice some prep and care, you should be okay.
It’s fun to cut loose while travelling, while that’s the point, but don’t take needless risks with your devices when you don’t need to. Such as, taking a device with you where it’s easily lost (think a tablet, laptop, or smartphone on the beach). That’s the same with anything, too. You don’t take needless risks while on the road, so don’t do it with your devices.
Here are some preparation tips before you leave for extended travel:
Have anti-malware and anti-virus installed on all devices, if not already. If those are installed, double check for updates, since you may lose network access and not have auto-updates while on the road.
Make sure you aren’t auto-connecting to available wireless networks, especially public ones. Public networks do not require a password and potentially expose data to cyber criminals. If you plan to connect to one, it’s not recommended to access sensitive data on your laptop, like banking logins. If you have to connect anyway, practice caution.
Like with anything, don’t click on any links, messages, or respond to unknown recipients. Social engineering may attempt to appear as hotel communications during travel.
Always remember where you place devices and store them during travel. If it helps, you can put them in a single travel bag, rather than mixed in several ones or with clothes/belongings. That’s because if you’re in a rush or need to change plans, it’s possible to lose a device in the chaos of abrupt decisions.
While travelling, you may also access publicly available computers and devices too. But much like joining a public network, these accessible systems should not be considered secure. Some aren’t part of secure networks, so many not use the latest software/apps, some might use older operating systems. In other words, they’re weaker platforms perfect for exploitation fi personal and valuable data is stored on them.
As you prep for travel, backup all relevant data and update to the latest version of a device’s OS, anti-virus, and software (if not done automatically). Just taking this extra step can be the difference between safety and disaster. Just because you’re on the go doesn’t mean cybersecurity concerns take a backseat.