When the first autumn chill hits the air, it’s often followed by daydreams of winter getaways to sun-soaked destinations. What seemed impossible this time last year is now an exciting reality: travel! Before you get your passports and sunscreen, here are a few things to know about staying secure online during your vacation.
A lot of us have been working remotely for the last 18+ months, which might make you think that you have everything you need to take your devices on the road. However, your remote setup at home is a controlled environment that, hopefully by now, has been vetted and secured by an IT professional. Before you leave, it’s important to ensure that the devices you’ll be travelling with have updated anti-virus software, a firewall installed, strong passwords and MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication) in place, and a secure backup of your files completed. It’s also good to ensure that you have all the software and hardware you need before you leave so you don’t have to buy anything abroad.
Once you reach your destination, your hotel or café Wi-Fi may not be as secure as you’d think and the threat landscape has changed drastically since the last time people have left their homes. While you’re soaking up the sun, the best thing you can do is stay off of public or ‘free’ Wi-Fi as much as possible. When you can’t stay off it, it’s best to use either a VPN service or stay away from accessing any sensitive data or logging into sensitive sites, i.e. online banking. However, this may be easier said than done. Since you’re most likely planning on bringing your cell phone with you, your best bet for staying safe is to set up a roaming plan with your cell provider so you can use your phone as a personal hotspot as much as possible.
Staying off public Wi-Fi is one thing, but it’s also important to be aware of your surroundings when using your devices in public. You never know who might be trying to view your screen and gain valuable information, regardless of how secure your connection may be. Also, once your device needs a charge it’s best to use a port in your personal computer or a direct-to-wall socket charging port instead of devices you can’t control, i.e. hotel docking stations. These unknown charging devices can possibly contain malicious software that could be transferred when your device is connected. You should also never connect an unknown device (flash drive, external hard drive, etc.) to your own device for the same reason.
Now that you’ve followed these tips and feel that your devices are safe and secure, just sit back, relax, and enjoy!