Travel cyber security wandering rose

Is your data safe when you travel?

Cyber security tips for when you’re on the road (or really anytime)

You’re so careful with following basic rules of safety when you travel – from how you carry cash to what purse you use. But what about cyber security? Is your data safe when using your cell phone or laptop on the road?

Wandering Rose asked our friends at Blue Line Technologies for their top tips to keep your data safe while traveling. We’re thankful for Jeff, Gill, Tim and the gang at Blue Line who keep our networks secure, data backed up and email working smoothly at home and around the world.

Don’t trust public Wi-Fi

Just because a public Wi-Fi network requires a login or password, don’t assume it’s safe. You don’t know who else has that same code or what safeguards are in place to protect the information you send. This means many different types of infections, keyloggers, sniffers and other malicious tools could be lurking.

Public Wi-Fi is okay if you are surfing websites that don’t require any login or personal information. But don’t access any website that you wouldn’t want someone else to see (i.e. bank, company/personal email, or any website that stores personal information such as medical records or credit cards).

So what’s the alternative? Use your cell phone data for email and sensitive websites or use your cell phone to create a mobile hotspot. A mobile hotspot allows you to connect multiple devices (tablet, laptop, other phones) in a secure environment. Unsure if you have the mobile hotspot option? Check with your cell phone carrier. You can typically purchase the hotspot feature for a low monthly fee or on a “data as needed” basis.

Avoid using shared computers … or use them wisely

Shared computers were once the norm at hotels, apartments and other public places. That practice is being replaced by businesses providing a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) area with workspaces and printers. Shared computers still exist and can serve as a great tool, but they are rarely audited and minimally protected. Logging in to email, mobile banking, medical sites, and other sites that hold your personal information is dangerous.

If you must use a public computer, set its web browser to private or incognito mode. This will erase the history of sites visited, won’t save your passwords and comes with less chance of exposing data to malicious users. When you get to a safe internet connection and device, change the password and any security questions you may have answered for all sites you logged into on that public computer.

Two-factor authentication adds a layer of security

Do you want to use two-factor authentication? If you haven’t seen this question asked yet by Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter or your bank, it’s probably because you clicked “Not now”, “Maybe later”, or “Don’t ask me again” when you were in a rush that one time logging in.

You probably ignored it thinking, “What a pain in the rear.” But the investment in enabling two-factor authentication can save you major headaches down the road (travel pun). Beyond knowing your username and password, this function requires entering a code or answering a security question sent to a separate access point (cell phone or email) to prove your identity.

While some of the two-factor methods have been questioned due to breaches and lack of secure information in transit, this still adds a valuable extra layer of protection. Anything you can do to strengthen the security of accounts involving your money, medical history and other private information is worth the time investment.

Lost, damaged or stolen devices

You’ve never lost anything important, so there’s no reason to worry about losing your phone or laptop. Right? Wrong! Phones and laptops are frequent targets of thieves. And far too many phones end up broken or ruined by taking an unplanned swim (yes, even in toilets). Plan wisely and the loss of your device won’t mean the loss of important data and photos. But that’s a blog for another day soon.