Most holidaymakers think of sunscreen, straw hats, beach slippers and shorts when packing in their suitcase for their summer vacation. Credit cards, ID cards, COVID certificates and electronic gadgets are also high on the imaginary list of priorities. Even away from the office, we tend to remain connected and keep using these devices, which contain everything from our banking information to passwords and login credentials to various websites, not to mention our treasured, invaluable and irreplaceable family photos.
But do we really do everything we can to keep our data safe so no one can abuse or use them against us?
Read our cybersecurity tips below to avoid your holiday becoming a nightmare.
Preparing for your vacation is not only about choosing your destination and booking your accommodation but also about considering what technical devices you bring and how to use them.
Update your devices and back-up your data
Keep your devices up-to-date at all times, so they are less vulnerable to a cyberattack. Also, prepare for the worst: backup your data to have them even if your device is stolen or lost.
Keep the basic hygiene rules in mind
First, use strong-enough passwords on your devices and a secure swipe pattern lock on your smartphone. Second, set an automatic device lock asking for the access code after a specified time of inactivity. Delete apps you are no longer using. Take the minimum amount of data with you (on your devices) as possible. And last but not least, check your privacy settings on your apps and understand what data they can access on your device before downloading.
Consider turning off / not sending ‘Out of Office’ messages
Think twice before setting up your OOO (Out of Office) replies: the fewer people know you went on vacation, the better. If you want to send OOO messages, set up rules so only your colleagues got such replies. Do not forget: an automatic OOO response is a confirmation that your email address exists.
Get a VPN service to connect to unknown Wi-Fi network
Set up a VPN (Virtual Private Network) service before travel (if you have not done it already): when at a hotel or café, you can seldom trust the Wi-Fi connection, so better be prepared with a VPN endpoint to connect to immediately when away from your office or home.
Enjoy your deserved vacation, but do not forget about the basic guidelines and protect yourself from a lot of inconvenience and annoyance while on holiday.
Keep track of your devices
Keep your devices close at hand or in a secured place when not in use. Enable ‘Find My Device’ on Android and ‘Find My’ functionality on your iPhone or iPad.
Turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when idle
When you turn on the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, they connect to a network and track your whereabouts. If you do not need them, switch them off.
Check which wireless network you connected to and turn off automatic login to Wi-Fi networks
Always verify which network you are supposed to use and the credentials for login. Make sure your device asks your permission before connecting to a Wi-Fi network, so you can check which network you want to log in to. Be careful about insecure Wi-Fi hotspots and do not transmit personal info or make purchases on unsafe networks. Consider using a VPN if you need a more secure connection.
Avoid using USB plugs in public spaces
Be extremely cautious in public places like internet cafes, airports and hotels. Do not connect to applications where you need to log in with personal credentials. Do not plug in any USB sticks or other storage media in public computers, and avoid using your USB plugs even for charging. If the computer is infected, your USB will be as well. Use a shared computer in such areas only when absolutely necessary.
Actively manage location services and own your online presence
Think twice before posting pictures that would reveal you are not home. It is never a good idea to post images of yourself while on vacation. Malignant people might find your postal address by checking your social media sites (or from other sources) and break into your home while you are on vacation. Set your social media accounts to only allow your ‘close circle’ of social media friends to view your posts and content.
Don’t download applications you don’t know about
On holidays we are often susceptible to downloading mobile applications to make our stay easier and improve our experience in the places we visit (hotels, museums, public transport, etc.). The first step is to avoid installing them if it is not necessary and if not, make sure you always download them from official shops such as the App Store and Google Play.
Find, lock, or erase your lost or stolen device
If your device has been lost or stolen, use the ‘Find my device’ functionality and try to locate your device. You can remotely erase data on your device if it is turned on and connected to the network. It is crucial to do a remote wipe very quickly before your data become compromised on your device.
Hopefully, you had a wonderful holiday and got a lot of memorable experiences. But the devil never sleeps, and cybersecurity must always be thought of. You took hundreds of images and stored them on different devices in different formats. You visited various websites, downloaded images, and purchased online…
Clear cache of your browser and remove any unnecessary apps
Clear your browser cache to avoid any data leaks and remove any unnecessary apps from your devices as it can abuse permissions you have given.
If you notice any abnormal activity on any of your devices, please proceed as follows:
Do a quick inventory of all your data and removable storage media: do you and all your family members have all flashcards, USB sticks, smartphones, etc.?