Travelers very often rely on public computers or WiFi and can become easy prey for hackers. Or they may need to leave their electronic devices unattended in hotel rooms or in-transit.
The following procedures will keep you cyber protected next time you're away from home.
Prior to Leaving Home:
- Limit the number of electronic devices you take to those you can carry on your person; making it less likely for your devices to get stolen or compromised.
- Prior to leaving, update your mobile software. In order to improve your device's capability in defending itself against malware, keep your operating system software and apps on your mobile device updated.
- While your device is on idle, turn off the Wi-Fi and its remote access modes. Some devices will automatically seek and connect to all available wireless networks. Disabling these features will allow you to connect to only the wireless and Bluetooth networks you choose, when you choose.?
- Create strong passwords. Passwords should be at least eight characters in length with both numbers, letters and special characters (@!$?). Create unique passwords for each device.
- Enable stronger authentication. Stronger authentication (also known as two-factor or multi-factor authentication) adds an extra layer of security beyond using a password to access your accounts. Most major e-mail, social media and financial platforms offer multi-factor authentication to their users. Be sure to ask your service provider if you can activate this feature before departing on your trip.
During the Trip:
Be aware of your Internet activity and how you can protect your privacy as well as your device:
- Keep your phone locked when not using it. Even a few minutes could be enough time to allow someone to steal your information. Using strong PINs and passwords for your accounts and locking the screen would go a long way to protect your device.
- Think before you connect. Be sure to confirm the name of the network and login procedures with appropriate staff of public wireless hotspots at airports, hotels, train/bus stations or cafes to make sure that the networks are legitimate. Many fake networks have seemingly legitimate names
- Protect your money and your information. Do not conduct sensitive activities, such as online shopping, banking, or sensitive work, using a public wireless network or a public computer.
- Delete your cookies and cache. Each time the Internet is accessed, browsers save your information. This saved data is called a "cookie." This cookie, can include login credentials or other personal information, that can then be accessed by other individuals that may use the computer. If you use the Internet on a public computer (such as at a hotel or café) while you are traveling, be sure to delete your cookies in the web browser after you have finished.
- Don't broadcast your location. If you do, you could be alerting stalkers where to find you, or telling a thief that you are not home. Many social media platforms offer location-tagging as part of their features. Avoid using these location features and do not announce on social media that you will be out of town.
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To learn more about how you can defend against cyber threats, please visit the Department of Homeland Security's Stop.Think.Connect.™ Campaign
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