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Have a cyber safe summer holiday

Have a cyber safe summer holiday

In our joined-up, high-tech lives making sure we are safe when going on holiday is an absolute necessity. Increasingly this includes our devices. Here then is our cybersecurity checklist you should cover when about to go on holiday, while there and when you come home.

Before you leave

Make sure the operating systems and software on your devices are up-to-date. Having to install updates when on the road or abroad can be slow and could involve unstable and iffy connections. Use your home wifi connection which is secured with a password.

Secure the devices you’ll be leaving at home or at work. If a burglar gets hold of your laptop they can harvest your data. Make sure they are all password protected.

A good idea is to backup all your data on the devices you’re taking with you so if you lose them it won’t be a complete disaster.

Never announce your travel arrangements on social media. Obviously, any canny would-be thief can be alerted to an empty house. And it is recommended not to post photos from your holiday until you get back.

It is highly recommended to disable the auto-connect options before you leave and have your devices forget the network SSIDs in their lists. Not doing so could see criminals use these for man-in-the-middle attacks.

Get shields to store your contactless credit and debit cards. This enables you to carry them around without leaking valuable data.

Do you really need so many devices on holiday? Minimise the number and reduce the chances of damaging them or seeing them stolen.

Make sure your travel insurance covers all your devices and any other valuables you are taking on holiday.

Still planning the ideal holiday. Always use reputable booking sites. The safest way to avoid any problems is to book directly with the hotel’s website. If you’re not sure then ring the hotel directly. Be wary of sites that urge you to book one of the last remaining rooms or won’t allow you to view a breakdown of the fees.

When booking a hotel ask about their privacy and security policies. Hotels are regularly targeted by criminals in that they store a large amount of valuable data.

Perhaps consider setting limits to your children’s use of their devices both if you’re staying at home or going abroad. On holiday we tend to relax our routines and habits, and this can include the use of technology.

Make your children are aware of the dangers from malware or inappropriate content online.

When you’re travelling

Don’t leave devices in your car at the airport carpark. If you’re driving, it’s probably a good idea to disable your Bluetooth on your phone because the car is the only useful Bluetooth connection you will need.

Consider downloading a VPN. Most airports and other waypoints offer free wifi but these can be risky.

If you need to use a hotel’s wifi make sure their connections are secured with passwords. if you need to access sensitive data set up a VPN on your laptop.

Get yourself a privacy screen. It is amazing how easily people can see what you are doing on your device.

Don’t use public computers for any sensitive internet usage. This includes online shopping and financial transactions. When travelling its safer to spend good old-fashioned cash at your destination instead of online.

Keep in mind that using webmail when on holiday will be less secure than your normal email.

Make sure all your devices are fully protected against malware. keep all protections up-to-date.

Make sure there is somewhere safe while abroad to store devices you might not need during the day. Ask your hotel if they have options for securing devices such as a hotel safe. Do not leave them in your room.

If you travel abroad

Make sure all your devices are fully charged. You may need to use them before you can charge them again and it could require different cables, power plugs and adaptors. Come prepared.

Travelling to the US has become a more stringent process. They can and will look at your social media accounts to find any information that could portray you as an unwelcome guest. Make sure you remove any questionable content to stop further investigations.

Again, the US may ask you to hand over devices and your passwords. Make sure there is nothing you want to be found.

Other countries now have similar border policies so check exactly what they demand before going there.

Getting back home

Arriving back home, tanned and rested there is a few things you should do before unpacking.

Update any anti-malware solutions and run manual scans on your devices to check whether you have unwanted guests you may have picked up on the road.

If you bought a device abroad check them for compliance and whether they may have been compromised. In some countries there are devices sold with monitoring software pre-installed.

Check you bank account for any unexpected withdrawals or spending. If so, then immediately contact your bank or credit card provider.

And change the passwords you used abroad. There may be the possibility that someone obtained them during your trip.


A veteran freelance journalist writing extensively on internet news and cybersecurity.
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