Are you heading out on vacation? Keep your electronics, and your secure data, safe with these 5 tips. Here is our weekly tech blog, with a summer-inspired twist.
For folks in the United States, this past weekend was Memorial Day, which is the unofficial beginning of summer. Almost 700 million North Americans go on vacation between late May and September. If you reside in the Northern hemisphere, summer is starting in just a few weeks. This means balmy days and lazy nights, barbecues, and of course, vacations.
Many of you will be taking trips to celebrate the long days and beautiful weather. Wherever you and your family decide to go, make sure that your electronics, and the information that is on your devices, stays secure. Here are some tips to keep your technology safe while you are away from home; or if disaster strikes, how to keep erstwhile thieves from getting access to sensitive information.
- Password protect everything. This should be common practice for all devices anyway, but it’s worth saying again. In addition, don’t be lazy and come up with a password that could be cracked by a toddler. If you have trouble remembering your passwords–and who doesn’t–a password management app like LastPass can help without compromising your data. I cannot stress this point enough, but a great password can keep most hackers from access to your data at least long enough for you to locate your device and do some damage control.
- If the worst happens, and you need to do damage control, there are several solutions available to you. If thieves do get your phone or laptop, there are remote-wipe apps available, like this solution from ESET. If using a third-party app makes you nervous, Android’s Device Manager (ADM) or Apple’s iCloud remote services can help. I recommend setting these features up before you leave so that you can get the device’s sensitive information erased instantly. Let’s face it, if your device disappears, you are not going to be thinking clearly. You need something that is going to keep your information out of the wrong hands. You will also not be responsible for any charges that might accrue.
- Consider going electronically “naked”. Yes, I know that the very idea of putting away your devices is anathema for some of you. But hear me out. If you are heading to paradise, you should relax and enjoy the scenery, not spend hours on your phone. In addition, cell service might be sparse or nonexistent in really remote places anyway. Places like Russia or China are both notorious for hackers, so why set yourself up for a security issue? If you absolutely need a cell phone for safety reasons, why not get one of those temporary plans with the cheap phones that come with it? That way, if it goes missing you are out less than $100 and nobody can get access to your bank accounts.
- Avoid public access wifi. You have several options here. Set up a VPN, if possible. You can also use your phone as a wifi hotspot. If none of these ideas works for you, at the very least, avoid doing any shopping or banking on hotel or airport wifi. Again, this should be common sense, but if your iPad is the only thing that calms a snarky toddler, any parent can lose sight of cybersafety.
- Don’t make yourself a target. Be aware of your surroundings; if someplace looks sketchy, it probably is. Keep your devices locked up in the hotel, and don’t show off your possessions by having them out constantly. You should be looking at the view around you anyway, not at your phone. Be aware that pickpockets are rampant in places like Prague, Hanoi, and Barcelona, so having expensive electronics in easily accessible spots is like having a big neon sign saying, “iPhone here” hovering over you.
Travel can be stressful, but using common sense and protecting yourself from the outset can make it less so. Enjoy your trip and stay safe!