Cybersecurity measures should be on top of the what-to-bring-with-you list when preparing for travel, either for business or for tourism. Here are seven crucial cybersecurity tips to keep your data and finances safe while on the go.
International travel is often an exciting opportunity for cultural exploration or a necessity for conducting business. Either way, it is quite easy to focus on the entertaining or professional aspects of the trip and overlook cybersecurity matters, which may lead to a loss of important data or money. In this article, you will find seven essential tips for international travellers.
Keep your devices secure
Use strong passwords and lock your laptop, phone, and other devices when not in use. You should also be cautious when using public Wi-Fi in airports, hotels, restaurants and other places. These networks can often be insecure and leave you vulnerable to hacking attempts.
There are several types of cyberattacks that involve public Wi-Fi networks. For instance, some networks do not use encryption, meaning that hackers can intercept the data transmitted over them. Hackers sometimes set up their own Wi-Fi networks that sound the same as legitimate ones. Once you are connected, the hacker may steal your personal information or infect your computer with malware. The third type of Wi-Fi cyberattack involves criminals tricking you into downloading malicious software by implying that it is something you must do to get access to a free public network.
Avoid using publicly accessible computers and USB charging stations
Computers that you can use in hotels, business centres, airports, and other public spaces might be infected with malware that can steal your credentials or credit card information by capturing keystrokes. Do not enter any sensitive information on such devices. If you absolutely have to log in to some of your accounts, do it in incognito mode and log out of the accounts afterwards.
Public USB charging stations might be just as unsafe to use, with criminals putting malware or spyware on them to then get access to your finances and personal data. To protect your devices from this threat, use USB data blockers—they are designed to physically block data pins but do not interrupt charging.
Backup important data
When travelling, backup copies of your passport and other travel documents, as well as financial and personal information. Store your backup data on an encrypted external hard drive or in a secure cloud storage service, and make sure to update it regularly. This way, if your devices are lost or stolen, you will have a backup of all your important information.
Keep software up-to-date
Keep all software up-to-date for all of your devices, as the updates usually contain important security patches that make it harder for hackers to exploit their vulnerabilities. Update your software before travelling to avoid using potentially corrupted networks during the trip.
Beware of skimming
Skimming is a type of theft in which a device is attached to an ATM or other electronic payment system to steal credit card information. Skimming is a particular risk when travelling, as criminals often target tourists who may be less aware of the dangers. To protect yourself from skimming when travelling, avoid any suspicious devices involved with your electronic payments. If you need to use an ATM, choose the one located at a bank office.
Be cautious of QR codes
Criminals may create fake QR codes that look similar to legitimate ones and then place them on posters, signs, or even menus in cafés. When scanned, these fake QR codes can install malware on your device or direct you to a phishing website where your personal and financial information can be stolen. Be cautious when scanning codes from unknown sources, and try to avoid scanning them if there is a safe option of getting the same information.
Research tour operators and accommodations
Unscrupulous operators offer seemingly legitimate tours and activities at a low cost. Some of those offerings may be either subpar or virtually non-existent. To protect yourself from fraudulent tour operators when travelling, research the company and the tour beforehand, read reviews from previous customers, and only book through reputable sources. Some accommodations even on generally reliable websites turn out to be fake or have artificially inflated ratings, so do your own research for every booking to ensure your stay is not ruined by fraudsters.
It's essential to take proactive steps to secure your personal and financial information while travelling. Whether it's keeping your devices secure, protecting your online accounts, or being mindful of your physical surroundings, these cybersecurity tips can help ensure that your travels are safe and enjoyable.