Remaining safe from cybercrime while on the road.
While cybercrime can occur anywhere and at any time, special precautions are required during travel. You must protect your data and devices while you are away from the secure networks you rely upon at home. You should also avoid broadcasting that you are away and your home is empty. Here are some best practices to make a central part of your travel plans.
Secure Devices and Connections
- If you’ll be traveling in regions known for cyber espionage activities, consider leaving your primary personal devices at home. Take a separate phone and laptop, and have your phone calls and emails forwarded to them. That way, if your device or communications are compromised, the potential exposure is limited to the data on those devices rather than all the sensitive data on your primary device. If you must bring your primary devices, leave them in airplane mode and use a separate phone for communications.
- Public Wi-Fi at hotels, airports and cafes is notoriously unsecure. Avoid using these networks by obtaining a Mi-Fi (personal mobile Wi-Fi device) from your cellular carrier. Mi-Fis create a personal mobile internet connection with a unique password, and almost all Mi-Fis use WPA2, the preferred form of wireless encryption. You can also achieve a similar result by using a virtual private network (VPN) service, which can be downloaded to your device as an app. Providers can also encrypt your device traffic through a VPN and add even more layers of security.
- If one of your devices is ever lost or stolen, you will want to remove all sensitive data as soon as possible in order to mitigate unauthorized access. You can enable remote wipe capabilities for phones via services like Find My iPhone and Lookout Mobile.
Email and Social Media Best Practices
- Post carefully and retroactively. Don’t advertise on social media about being away from home by live-posting photos and updates. Knowing you are away from home, and potentially unavailable to verify financial transactions, gives criminals the chance to exploit both your cyber and physical vulnerabilities.
- Set up a separate email account for long stays abroad: consider opening a throw-away email account for periods of extended travel. Have your regular emails forwarded to this account during the travel period to limit information exposure, in the event this email is compromised during travel.
- Use a generic “out of office” message. Don’t telegraph that you are away from home by revealing the details of your trip. Keep it simple. For example, “My response to your email may be delayed. Please contact ____ for any urgent needs.”
Making International Purchases
- Inform your bank that you will be traveling out of the country. Ask them to monitor your account for large or uncommon expenses.
- Carry and use a single, designated credit card for all international transactions. Ask your credit card company to monitor transactions on this card more closely.
- Monitor your bank and credit card statements closely upon your return in order to spot fraudulent transactions more quickly.