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Cyber security tips for summer travel

June 8, 2017

Are you planning to hit the road in the next few months? Remember to stay safe online.

It's summertime and that often means people are traveling. We put together some tips to keep you cyber secure on your trips.

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We want to thank the Center for Internet Security for this post's content. If you want even more help, you can review our cybersecurity tips page.

Stop and think when sharing

Is anyone home?

Always be careful about how much you post on social media about your vacations. This includes before and after your travels. Criminals watch online posts to find people that are away with homes that are empty. So, before “checking in” to a location on a social network, consider what else you are sharing.

Post when you get back

Skip the “check in” and make your vacation posts when you get home. At the very least, check your privacy settings and only let friends see your posts. To be even safer, think about turning off any GPS or auto-tagging and auto-check features while you’re out of town.

Disable Wi-Fi auto-connect services

Stick with encrypted networks

Some devices have a feature that automatically searches and connects to public wireless networks. The problem is, your device will connect to any unencrypted, public Wi-Fi networks. This includes networks created by someone who just wants to eavesdrop on your browsing and connection activity.

Want to connect to a store or hotel’s network? Check with an employee to get the correct network name and password. This ensures you’ll have a more secure, encrypted network. If you have the option, always use a secure, encrypted network that requires login credentials.

Don’t automatically connect

Never choose to “remember this network” or “join this network automatically” once you find a trusted network on your vacation. If it’s a network with a generic name, your device could connect you to a less secure one that happens to have the same name.

Even if you have this feature turned off, there’s another setting that will connect you to a network you have joined before. This can be a problem since your device doesn’t know the difference between your coffee shop’s “Guest” network and a malicious “Guest” network. Turn these settings off so you don’t automatically connect.

Keep devices close (and locked)

Whether it’s a laptop, tablet, or smartphone, be sure to keep your device on you or with someone you trust. Never leave a device unattended in:

  • an airport
  • train station
  • restaurant
  • hotel lobby, or
  • anywhere else in public while traveling.

There is a common scam that targets people who leave devices sitting next to them. In this scam, another traveler will approach you and ask for help and then lay a newspaper or map down over your device. While you’re distracted answering their question, they are picking up and pocketing your device under the cover of the newspaper or map!