Safe Travel Includes Safe Computing

May 17, 2017   |  By Brian Coats

The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), the good folks behind the STOP.THINK.CONNECT campaign and the StaySafeOnline website, have declared June as Internet Safety Month

June is the beginning of the summer vacation season and for many a time of travel. Travel has become more digital by the day. During this same time frame last year, 40 percent of Americans took care of their travel reservations — flights, hotels, cruises — on mobile devices. Before you leave home and while you are on the go, use the following tips from the NCSA to help steer clear of digital dangers.

Getting ready to go:

  • Keep a clean machine: Before you hit the road, make sure all security and critical software is up to date on your internet-connected devices and keep them updated during travel. It is your best line of defense.
  • Get two steps ahead: Turn on two-step authentication (also known as multi-factor authentication) for an extra layer of security beyond the password that is available on most major email, social, and financial accounts.
  • Make sure all devices are password protected: Use a passcode or security feature (like a finger swipe) to lock your phone or mobile device.
  • Think before you app: Review the privacy policy and understand what data (such as location and entry to your social networks) the app can access on your device before you download. Delete apps you are no longer using.
  • Own your online presence: Set the privacy and security settings on web services and devices. It is OK to limit how and with whom you share information — especially when you are away. 

While on the go:

  • Actively manage location services: Location tools come in handy while planning your trip or navigating a new place, but they also can expose your location — even through photos. Turn off location services when not in use.
  • Get savvy about WiFi hot spots: Do not transmit personal info or make purchases on unsecure networks. Instead, use a virtual private network (VPN) or your phone as a personal hotspot to surf more securely.
  • Turn off WiFi and Bluetooth when idle: When WiFi and Bluetooth are on, they connect and track your whereabouts. If you do not need them, switch them off.
  • Protect your $$$: Be sure to shop or bank only on secure sites. Web addresses with "https://" or "shttp://", means the site takes extra security measures. However, an "http://" address is not secure.
  • Never use public computers to log in to any accounts: Be extremely cautious on public computers in airports, hotel lobbies, and internet cafes. Keep activities as generic and anonymous as possible.
  • Share with care: Think twice before posting pictures that you would not want certain people (like your parents or employer) to see or photos that would reveal you are traveling.
  • Post only about others as you would have them post about you: The golden rule applies online, too.

Enjoy your vacation, travel safely, and remember to always practice safe computing!