There's the free airport wireless internet we all use to pass the time waiting in terminals. There's the hotel Wi-Fi we use to connect in our rooms or the free internet we use in cafes and restaurants. We connect to any and all networks with our smartphones, iPads and laptops, and mostly don't think anything of it, especially while traveling. However, despite the feeling of freedom that comes with travel and a break in our routine, it is wise to ensure we stay safe online no matter where in the world we go and have the right kind of security coverage. October is National Cyber Security Awareness month and travelers should always be mindful of taking security precautions while traveling.
Take control of connections
The Department of Homeland Security wanted to remind travelers how to protect themselves, and recently released a cybersecurity tip sheet. It is important to disable any auto connect features on smartphones and other devices while away from known, secure connections, the source noted. When your phone is Bluetooth-enabled, it can sync up with other devices wirelessly such as headphones or car entertainment systems, leaving your phone vulnerable.
Always connect to secure networks. Staysafeonline.org provides some handy tips about keeping a clean machine. If the Wi-Fi is free or public, ensure you select the correctly-named network. You don't want to accidently leave yourself open to a hacker by connecting to someone's personal system. The tip sheet further states that travelers should obtain the right passwords and network names from public Wi-Fi networks to be certain that they are using a legitimate, safe connection. Always ensure you know where your phone is at all times and set up the "find my phone" features beforehand in case you need to track a lost device.
Put up your defenses
Before you even leave your house, Inc.com stated, ensure that you have passcodes on your phone and laptop. If it's possible, encrypt them for another layer of security. Should either device happen to go on a trip of its own, the thief will not be able to get inside and at your personal data.
Travelers who head overseas often don't want to pay for international data plans. They then leave their phones in airplane mode and connect to the internet using Wi-Fi or a wireless connection. Inc.com reminded travelers to use a VPN when connecting. Also known as a virtual private network, this method of internet access ensures that your browsing and data are encrypted, and therefore at least somewhat safer.
Hold on to documents
It's universally understood, but remember to keep your passport, driver's license and other personal information on you at all times. If your hotel has a room safe and you will be at the location for an extended period of time, lock up your valuable papers during the day. Inc.com suggested that travelers make "copies" of important cards and information by taking photographs and storing them on their smartphones - which should be accessible only via password.
Being savvy with cybersecurity while traveling anywhere in the world need not be a headache. In fact, you just have to be smart about what you are doing, and really think about how wise it is to use an unsecured connection, to leave your device unattended or to conduct online banking transactions in a public place.
Contact your travel insurance provider for further assistance.
The information contained here is provided by Brafton. AIG Travel assumes no responsibility for the use, accuracy, or interpretation of the information contained herein.