Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Cybersecurity Smarts: Tips for Travel

Internationally, protections and safety on the Internet can vary widely from our own. According to the FBI, “In most countries, you have no expectation of privacy in Internet cafes, hotels, airplanes, offices, or public spaces. All information you send electronically can be intercepted, especially wireless communications.” This can put you at risk when you are traveling, especially if you’re bringing your laptop or smartphone with you when you go. Not only are your technological valuables at risk from physical threats, but cyber threats as well.

To ensure you have the best and safest travel experience as possible, you may want to take some steps to ensure your security.

Before You Go:
  • Make sure all of your files are backed up on an external hard drive.
  • Make sure all of your security software is up-to-date.
  • Clear your browser history, cache, cookies, and passwords; otherwise these could give people information to your browsing habits and personal information.
While Traveling:
  • Keep your technology in a secure spot, and know it’s whereabouts at all times.
  • If you leave your laptop in a hotel, make sure to store it in the safe when you leave the room. In some countries (such as Russia and China), it is recommended that you keep all technology with you at all times; even the hotel safe cannot be trusted.
  • Beware of wandering eyes if using your computer in public. You may want to invest in a privacy screen -- just in case there’s a not-so-friendly neighbor sitting next to you on the plane.
  • Beware of public WiFi, it’s much easier for hackers and scammers to infiltrate and gain access to your data on it.
  • Clear your Internet browser after each use to limit the access of data that can be retrieved.
  • Avoid using public computers. These may have keyloggers and other types of data capturing software present. If you do use a public computer, change your password for any accounts you accessed, as soon as you can, from your personal system.
When You Return Home:
  • After returning home, you may want to keep an eye on your bank and credit card statements for a little while, just in case someone did gain access to any of your information.
  • Run a virus check on your computer to make sure no viruses or malicious programs were placed on your computer without your knowledge.
  • Change passwords to all accounts you used while traveling.
If you do run into problems while traveling, make sure to contact the right people:
  • If you are traveling internationally and your computer gets stolen, report it to the nearest US Embassy to get help.
  • If someone gains access to sensitive information, especially for your job, be sure to contact the head of IT at your work. Hackers can use this information to infiltrate the whole network and compromise sensitive information for the entire organization.
  • Contact any banks or credit companies if you think any of sensitive information has been exposed.
Good luck on your explorations, and just remember: Don’t invite hackers to join your travel adventure.

Debbi Blyth: Chief Information Security Officer. Colorado native (almost!), beach lover, deep sea diver, Sunday school teacher. I'm the queen of keeping Colorado safe online. Find me on Twitter at @debbiblyth.

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