Summer is drawing to an end. Still, August is considered prime vacation time, especially because of Labor Day. Of course, people travel year ‘round, for reasons besides vacations and when you’re on the road, you need to be careful about your online security.
We love electronic devices and for the most part, we generally consider it unthinkable not to take a tablet, laptop or smartphone along with us during our travels. However, despite their convenience, these mobile devices also contain personal information – including potentially sensitive data about your online interests and more.
Here are some simple common-sense tips that can help protect your security, and your privacy, while traveling:
Don’t Invite Criminals to Your Home
Why would you call up convicted burglars on the phone and announce your vacation plans? You wouldn’t, of course. And yet, each year fun-loving families do the exact same thing on social media sites such as Facebook. To make matters worse, some of these families will even post their vacation pictures while they’re still on their trip – proving to potential robbers that they haven’t even started packing to come home. Post the vacation pix after you get home and have confirmed you still own your widescreen and furniture.
Watch Your Posts
Before you post your vacation pix, remember that (unless you specify a privacy setting for them) anyone will be able to see your fun-loving side…including college admissions reps, job recruiters or potential in-laws.
Candidly Quick Cameras
Many of today’s cameras come with Wi-Fi, HD and more. That makes cameras a juicy target for thieves. When traveling, limit group photos that require you to hand off your camera to a stranger; have someone that works in a restaurant or a street vendor take your picture instead. And always use passwords or passkeys to lock your devices. That way your images or device can’t be accessed if your technology gets stolen.
In the event that you do need to take sensitive documents with you, prevent info theft. Use apps that have passwords or some other form of encryption system to safeguard especially sensitive files. That way, even if you lose an electronic device to accident or theft, no unauthorized personnel will be able to get at those protected files.
The Extra “S” is For “Security”
The extra “S” in “HTTPS” stands for “Security.” It signifies the combination of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) with the SSL/TLS protocol, which join forces to create a secure way to shuttle information around. If you plan to transfer funds, or handle another financial transaction (or distribute sensitive company info while on the road), check for the extra “S” in the URL line. It’s also usually accompanied by a small lock icon; this confirms your data is being encrypted.
Prevent “Log” Jams
For travelers on the move, popping into a Starbucks for Wi-Fi or other Internet cafe to check e-mail is an essential task. Unfortunately, many of these hurried travelers are in such a rush, they forget to log out once they’ve finished their online session. Always log out of any sessions you’ve started with any provider like Yahoo or Google. And just for safety sake, clear the browser cache.
Just closing the browser window does not accomplish the same objective of clearing out your account information. Many accounts like Yahoo, AOL, Facebook and others, keep you logged in (which is handy, when you’re at home), until you log yourself out (not so handy when you’re on the road). Always end your sessions and clean up your tracks, and make sure the next person using the computer doesn’t have access to any of your info.
Keep Your Guard Up
Sure, you’re on vacation (let’s assume) and you want to just kick back and forget your life back home. While the need to kick back is important and universal, you shouldn’t ever get completely relaxed where your finances are concerned. Smart travelers check up on their finances during vacation, to make sure daily credit and financial balances make sense. This is extra smart because time is definitely of the essence when it comes to catching credit card frauds.
Turn the Tables
Use anti-theft programs and apps designed to help you track stolen devices; you can even remotely log into missing equipment (even though the devices aren’t in your possession). The technology is also being used to protect homes. One new Google+ app even provides a way for you to actually physically monitor your house in real time.
Lock It Up
When traveling, put your electronics (as much as will fit) into the hotel safe, and you’ll sleep like a rock. If the place you’re staying at doesn’t have individual safes, it’s almost a sure bet that the hotel has a main safe where you can store your valuable gadgets (and sensitive info).
Do You Really Need It?
Do you really need to take a smartphone and an mp3 player? There is a privacy issue here beyond just having more freight to lug around; if you’re leaving or entering the country, your laptop or smartphone could get searched and even copied by Border Agents.
New technology makes enforcing your traveling online security even more difficult these days. Learning how to use the Internet and Wi-Fi protocols can help you protect yourself while traveling. At the end of the day, prevention is worth a pound of cure. Follow these tips for safer and smarter travels.
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