Cybersecurity & International Travel
- Traveling with a connected device could open you up to cyberattacks or data breaches
- About 64% of American citizens have experienced a major data breach
- Failure to take protective cybersecurity measures can put your business and personal data at risk while traveling
Whether you are a high-tech adventure seeker or a regular business traveler, traveling, particularly in a foreign country, poses unique cyber security threats many people do not fully understand. Business owners are especially vulnerable as they carry critical business and personal-oriented data on their smart devices.
Fortunately, there are diverse ways to mitigate cyber threats while traveling to secure your business and personal information. Here is a comprehensive outline of what you can do to protect your data while traveling.
- Physically protect your devices
- Never auto-connect to unknown/untrustworthy wireless networks
- Connect to secure wireless networks
- Do not share confidential information on public internet terminals
- Ensure you have the most up-to-date anti-malware and anti-virus software installed
- Update all your device’s software features and applications
- Use different and unique passwords that others cannot easily guess
- Disable Bluetooth on your devices when not in use
This post provides an in-depth overview of the critical tips and tricks mentioned above.
Top 8 Things You Can Do to Ensure You’re Secure When Traveling
In a world plagued with cybersecurity breaches, Americans have become the biggest target of cyber-attacks. About 64% of Americans have experienced a data breach, and even more lack trust in public institutions like the federal government and social media platforms to protect their personal data.
1. Physically Protect Your Devices
The first item, which is really the most obvious, but also top on the list, is physically protecting all your home and office devices when traveling. Ensure your electronic devices are secured in airports, hotel rooms, and other public places to prevent physical theft, unauthorized access, and consequent data breaches.
Never leave your devices unattended, and never trust strangers with your devices. Someone may seem friendly, but you never know how trustworthy they are, especially regarding your personal and work information.
Therefore, ensure you always lock all your work devices in a safe place when you leave them in your room. Having access to your phone or work tablet is always the first step to accessing sensitive information or hacking your important data.
2. Never Auto-Connect to Unknown/Public Wireless Networks
You might have already heard that auto-connecting to wireless networks is a recipe for disaster. It gets even riskier when accessing critical company data using public or unknown wireless connections. Most public networks are always insecure and increase your chances of getting hacked or accounts compromised.
Often, hackers use public networks to gather sensitive information from unsuspecting victims. This can be at the coffee shop around the corner, at your favorite restaurant, or a fast-food court. And if you feel you must connect to a public wireless connection, ensure you log in to only the necessary websites, finish your work, and log out immediately after you finish the job.
We also recommend disabling the auto-connect feature on your gadgets before traveling. While this feature is helpful at home and in the office, it is not something you want while traveling abroad. If possible, have a VPN and stick to your own data network connection when traveling.
3. Connect to Secure Wireless Networks
All secure wireless networks require a password to access them, making them a more reliable connection for travelers on business. If you are using a wireless network that does not need a password, it means the connection is not encrypted and may not be secured to transfer personal and/or business information. Anything you send over this network will be at risk of being intercepted and used by cybercriminals.
While free internet access may appeal to most travelers, it exposes you to different cyber threats, malware attacks, spam, virus attacks, and other cyber-attacks. If you must use free Wi-Fi hotspots and internet cafes, always check that they are from known and trusted providers that are not set up by cybercriminals.
4. Do not Share Confidential Information on Public Internet Terminals
Most guestrooms, hotels, and other public places usually have computers that clients can use to access their data, even while traveling. You can access work documents, send emails, and surf the internet safely without worrying about cyber-attacks and security breaches.
However, while this may be convenient, especially for travelers who do not carry their laptops or other work devices, it is not always 100% safe to share confidential information public internet terminals from public internet terminals.
As a traveler, you also cannot fully trust publicly available computers as they may not always receive the latest security patches and updates. Some devices may even have malicious viruses seeded into them by cyber criminals who intend to access your digital keys and passwords.
Therefore, only use public computers for general browsing and to access general information. Avoid using public internet terminals to access more sensitive information, such as bank accounts, emails, or other sensitive personal information.
5. Install the Most Up-to-Date Anti-Malware & Anti-Virus Software
Another critical step to help secure your personal and work accounts from being accessed by bad actors is to install up-to-date anti-malware and multi-virus software to protect devices even when traveling.
Aside from using a trustworthy security brand, ensure your anti-virus and anti-malware software is up to date with the latest definitions. This is your first mode of protection against cybercriminals and acts as your device’s first line of defense in case of a cyber-attack.
6. Update All Device Software Features & Applications
Ensure you have the latest operating systems installed on your computers with all the latest patches. The same applies to your mobile phones and tablets. Take special care to keep the apps you normally use to conduct personal or financial business as current as possible.
The main advantage of regularly updating your mobile applications and software is that it eliminates potential cyber-attacks by improving your gadget’s ability to detect malware. This can include fixing security holes and bugs and removing outdated features.
7. Use Different and Unique Passwords
It is important to ensure your passwords are unique and difficult to guess. If possible, use a password manager to help you generate strong passwords. Most password managers can also help you generate and store your passwords and save you the hassle of having to remember all your passwords.
In addition to having different passwords set up for all your applications, changing your passwords regularly will help you protect sensitive information against external and internal threats to your devices.
8. Disable Bluetooth on Your Devices When Not in Use
Ensure you disable Bluetooth on all your devices when you are not using the service. This includes your phones, tablets, and laptops. Many cyber criminals now use Bluetooth and other ingenious ways to get into unsuspecting victims’ accounts.
Disabling Bluetooth connectivity when traveling minimizes your exposure to cyber security breaches. Without strong cryptographic authentication checks, any malicious bad actors can connect to your device using Bluetooth or trick your device into thinking that their rogue device is safe and secure.
Whether traveling for business, visiting a friend, or on vacation, you must now have and follow clearly defined cyber security steps to protect your personal and work data. The cyber security steps mentioned in this post should help you fortify your devices against malicious cyber-attacks.
Also, check out the cyber security laws and regulations in the countries you plan to visit beforehand. By remaining vigilant during your travels, you can significantly minimize and even stop your risk of suffering cyber threats.