9 tips to stay cyber safe while traveling

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10/09/2019

As October presents itself in terms of pumpkin-spiced “everything,” cooler temps, colorful leaves, National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) (ICYMI – we are 2019 Champions) and the announcement of SecurityNext’s program, Fall is a whirlwind of excitement! This time of year also reminds me of the extensive travel that takes place to family and friends’ homes for holiday gatherings, industry conferences and other work trips, vacations and the like. And, since the world is so hyper-connected, it is critical and crucial that everyone plans for and takes cybersecurity action when traveling. 

Based on information provided by National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies (NICCS), an online resource for cybersecurity training that connects government employees, students, educators and industry with cybersecurity training providers throughout the nation, as well as the Department of Homeland Security, and in honor of our SecurityNext conference, February 9-11, 2020 at the Royal Sonesta in NOLA, and NCSAM, here are some tips to keep yourself, family and friends safe before and during travel:

Before Travel

Update mobile software. Keep the operating system software, web browsers and apps updated will improve your device’s ability to defend against malware. Sign up for and/or turn on automatic updates; set security software to run regular scans; and use anti-virus software.

Back up information. Put contacts, financial data, photos, videos and other mobile data onto another device or external hard drive, or in the cloud. 

Keep devices under lock (and key). Lock your device when you’re not using it; it only takes a few minutes for someone to steal/destroy your data. Set devices to automatically lock after a short time; use strong PINs and passwords. (This is a cool video from HABITU8 for establishing passphrases!) 

Double your login protection. Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) for email, banking, social media and other services that require logging in. Enable MFA on trusted mobile devices, an authenticator app or a secure token (a small physical device that you can hook onto your key ring, for example.) 

During Travel

No auto-connecting. Disable remote connectivity and Bluetooth to prevent wirelessly connecting automatically to other devices — headphones, automobile infotainment systems, etc. Be choosey when deciding which wireless and Bluetooth networks to connect to. 

Think before connecting. Before connecting to any public wireless hotspot, confirm the network name and exact login procedures with appropriate staff. Your personal hotspot is usually a safer alternative to free Wi-Fi, and only use sites that begin with “https://”.

Play hard to get with strangers. If an email looks “phishy,” do not respond or click on any links or attachments. Use the “junk” or “block” option to no longer receive messages from the sender. 

Never click and tell. Limit the type of information shared on social media and other online places. Keep your full name, address, birthday and vacation plans private, and disable location services. Before posting pictures, make sure there is nothing in it to identify your location such as an address on a building, a street sign, the name of a business, etc. 

Physically guard mobile devices. Never leave devices or components, such as USBs or external hard drives, alone and keep them secured in taxis, at airports, on airplanes and in hotel rooms, lock them up in the commonly provided safe if you don’t want to lug them around with you.