Traveling can be a bit hectic at times, so it is important to make sure you are well prepared, especially when it comes to the security of your most valuable possessions; your sensitive data.
Your flight is booked and you are ready to go. You feel at ease as you have everything checked off on your ‘to-do’ list; travel insurance? Check. Medical insurance and emergency contacts? Check. An extra pair of shoes, your cell phone, and laptop? Triple check! It seems pretty easy and standard, especially if you traveled numerous times for business in the past. You’ve done your research and think you’re safe, but one thing that is constantly overlooked, even by the most well versed business traveler, is data security.
Data security is probably the last thing on your mind, but it’s one of the most valuable things you carry, and must be protected. Unfortunately, usually you don’t realize how important it is till it has been stolen. A laptop or cellphone is replaceable but that sensitive data that those devices carry is irreplaceable. Once in the wrong hands there is nothing you can do except attempt to deal with the damage that has been done.
In today’s IoT world we have access to everything and everyone around us from public Wi-Fi in hotels to coffee shops to restaurants to airports. Staying connected is made quite easy for us, but there is a tradeoff that comes at the expense of the security of our private data. These free public Wi-Fi spots are attractive to travelers, but they also attract plenty of hackers. From the moment you connect to public Wi-Fi you are connected to the rest of the world and are potentially letting hackers access your private information. The way hackers are able to this is by positioning themselves between you and the connecting point. This way instead of being connected directly to the network, you are actually sending your information to the hacker. At this point they have access to all the information on your device such as credit card information, banking information, confidential business emails, and various credentials to your private data.
So how can you prevent being the next target? Well, staying off the public Wi-Fi is the best strategy, but understandably sometimes it cannot be helped, especially with a three hour flight delay.
Here are seven steps you can take to make sure that your information stays safe on your device where it belongs:
- Disable your automatic connection to Wi-Fi. Make sure that your computer or cellphone is not automated to connect to Wi-Fi networks. This way you know when, where and to what you are connected.
- Update and Patch everything. Cybercriminals are always looking for security holes, so before you travel make sure that all the latest software and security updates are up to date on your devices.
- Use a VPN. It encrypts traffic between the device and the VPN server, making it a lot more difficult for a hacker to access your data.
- Only connect to websites that have https. Most websites that use https encrypt everything you send and receive from the website making the communication secure.
- Use a strong firewall and antivirus. A firewall won’t provide a complete protection but it’s an extra layer that should be enabled for your security. While an antivirus will alert you when your system has been compromised.
- Two Factor Authentication. Use two pieces of information to log into your accounts. That way even if a hacker is able to get your password by hacking your Wi-Fi, they will not be able to log into your account because they don’t have the second password.
- Only connect to legitimate public Wi-Fi. If you are unsure if the public Wi-Fi is legitimate, ask the hotel, restaurant or café, wherever you are accessing this hotspot to confirm the official name of the network, so you avoiding accessing something created by a hacker.
Device usage is growing; there are almost as many mobile devices on this planet as there are humans. With more device usage and wireless connectivity the more opportunities there are for hackers.