Staying safe while you travel should always be a priority. Doing so online is just as important as making sure your physical well-being is taken care of. Cybersecurity is not always something that travellers think of, though. Here are four tips for staying safe while travelling in the Internet age:
Clean up before you leave
The Federal Communications Commission recommends that travellers back up all their data before going on a trip. That means saving all of the information and files on your phone, computer or other devices. Upload their contents to an external hard drive or the cloud. This way, even if your device is lost or stolen, you still have everything that was on it. It's also a good idea to delete anything from your device that may contain sensitive information. Remove emails with super personal information and photos of important documents. You can still keep them in the cloud for easy access if you should need them, but make sure to sign out of your account when you're done using it so no one can get into it if they come across your phone or other tech device.
Be careful with Wi-Fi
Free Wi-Fi is great, but it can allow hackers into your computer to steal information you don't want them to get. The best way to avoid this? Bring your own wireless network via a hot spot. If you must spend time at a local cafe or other area with free Wi-Fi, you'll want to avoid doing anything sensitive, like accessing your bank account. For those who choose to use a public computer, this is also a good idea. Even devices that are hardwired into the Internet can be hacked. Always be sure you sign out of any account you sign in to (even social media profiles as they can have plenty of information about you, like where you live, how long you'll be on vacation and even your hotel). If you need to check your bank account, try to find a local branch to visit. Use their ATM or talk with a teller - these methods are much more secure than using wireless internet or checking your bank account on a public computer.
Use only credit cards
Cash is easy to lose and can take up a lot of room in your wallet. If it is stolen, there is virtually no way to trace it. Instead, opt to use only credit cards while travelling. This way, if someone takes your information and tries to purchase things, your bank will likely alert you immediately to unusual spending. During your trip, periodically check your account at a bank branch. You can browse through your purchases list to ensure that you are the only one using your card.
Choose a tricky password
It's not a good idea to use the same, or similar, passwords for various accounts. Keep your Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, bank, insurance and any other accounts you may have safe with a series of complicated passwords. Don't use your name or birthday in any part of them as this info is easy to come by. Use capital and lowercase letters as well as numbers and symbols to make it very difficult for someone to guess your password. It's even wise to change your passwords to a unique one that you use only on this trip. When you return home, change it back to your normal one or pick a new version entirely.