We read and hear more and more information about cases of insecurity online. Most of us try to at least change passwords on laptops once in a while or lock our mobile phones when leaving them on our office desks. But, when we are on vacation or some business trip, our primary concern is definitely not device security.
Of course, travelers often consider how to carry phones or money securely, but what about cyber security when traveling? While searching for unprotected WiFi networks to surf the internet or sharing locations and pictures on social media, web users commonly neglect simple online protection rules.
Both business travelers and world wanderers are vulnerable on trips because they often carry sensitive data, personal- or business-related, on all devices. It doesn’t matter whether you use a laptop, smartphone, tablet, or all of them, it’s surprisingly important to remember how to secure mobile devices and keep in mind some essential device security tips for mobile and computer while traveling.
Backup Your Data Before Your Trip
First things first: before you go on vacation or a business trip, it’s important to backup your data and leave it in a safe place at home or on a secure cloud service. In case of loss or theft of your devices, you’ll have your data secured to continue normal functioning.
Always Lock Your Device and Choose Complex Passwords or Biometric Protection
One of the simplest most important rules is to secure your device with a strong passcode. Shockingly, more than a third of users don’t use passwords on their devices. This is a huge mistake. Your password, fingerprint, or face identification is the first thing that will protect your data and information if you lose or forget your phone or laptop somewhere.
Regarding passwords and passcodes, try to create smart and unobvious passwords containing letters, numbers, or special characters. This tip is useful not only while you travel, but also at home—so don’t forget to change your passwords regularly. Here is our ultimate guide to how to create strong, memorable passwords.
Beware of Public WiFi Hotspots
Yes, we know that you want to save money by using free WiFi instead of expensive roaming. But public, free WiFi is much less secure than the cellular network, especially if it is not password protected. Anyone and everyone can use it, so your data is not safe. To avoid data theft, avoid sharing credit card information, work files, or personal information while using public WiFi. Even when the network is encrypted, it does not necessarily mean it’s safe—hackers can get access to your data on these networks as well. Critically, use free WiFi only if an urgent need arises and turn it off when you don’t need it. Also, you can use a VPN (virtual private network) as one more protective measure.
Ensure Your Software and Apps Are Up-to-date
Before every trip, you should check that your software and applications are updated. Updates are a primary line of defense to secure your phone while traveling. After every release of new versions, manufacturers try to secure and eliminate weaknesses of their products. If everything on your device is up-to-date, you’ll be more protected. However, be careful and read reviews of these updates, sometimes updates are buggy and can make things worse. Heaven forbid you updated your device absentmindedly and ended up losing a critical functionality during a trip!
Turn Off Cookies and Autofill for Your Devices
Undoubtedly, it’s cool that your smart device can automatically enter passwords and login information into favorite websites. It saves time and frustration if you have a lot of accounts with different secure passwords. But autofill is a kink in the armor, a gap in your security. If it’s easy for you, it’s also easy for people who want access to your data. Take a few moments to refresh yourself on the basics of how to protect your data online. If you don’t want to remember all of you passwords, you can always use a dedicated, secure tool to collect and remember them for you.
Disable Bluetooth for Pairing Devices Until You Are in a Secure Place
When you turn off your WiFi, don’t forget about Bluetooth as well! With Bluetooth or AirDrop, you won’t even notice when someone connects to your device, gets access to your data, or drops a malicious file on your device. Moreover, people can locate you when you turn on WiFi and Bluetooth.
Increasingly, as our lives become more tech-integrated, protecting your devices and keeping them secure on the road equates to improved physical security while you’re away from home. Practicing good online security and safety before and during travel is as important—or more so in some cases—than not flashing money and fancy devices around or carrying our vital documents in an easily accessible place. As trite as it seems, it is easier to prevent unpleasant events than deal with consequences, especially when you’re on the road.