5 Cybersecurity Measures To Take On Holiday
Even if you’re taking time off work to go on holiday, it’s unlikely that you’ll fully switch off from your electronic devices. Smartphones, laptops and tablets have become a part of our everyday lives, even if we’re just using them for pleasure or entertainment. Not to mention we rely on these devices for so many other aspects of our daily lives.
When travelling for holiday you might use your laptop to watch a movie on the plane or play games on your tablet, but you might also rely on your smartphone to help you transfer money, make payments and manage bookings.
It’s clear that these devices are so important to us and even on holiday they can play a key role in keeping us going. The problem is, no matter where you go in the world you’re never completely safe from cybercrime. Just because you’re taking a holiday, it doesn’t mean the cybercriminals are too. For this reason, you need to be extra careful when travelling and using your tech, especially if you’re using it in new locations.
In this guide, Evalian take a look at five simple cybersecurity measures you should take to protect yourself and your data when you’re on holiday.
- Do a backup and update before you go
Before you head off on your break, it’s a good idea to do a full backup of your devices. This way, should your system be hacked or your files stolen at any point while you’re away, you still have them backed up for when you return. It can also be beneficial to backup your files onto a cloud-based system. That way if your devices are lost or physically stolen you still have access to all these files.
It’s also important to make sure you’ve got all the right security systems in place and that these are as up to date as possible. Old or outdated applications can create vulnerabilities on your devices, making it easier for hackers and cybercriminals to gain access to your information. Ensuring you’ve run the appropriate updates on all applications or softwares will help to reduce the risk of this happening.
- Be careful when using public Wi-Fi
When you’re on holiday it’s likely that you’ll be very careful with your data, you might even turn it off as soon as you arrive. After all, many phone contracts only allow a certain amount of data usage abroad before adding eye-watering charges to your bill. As such, you may be relying primarily on Wi-Fi to keep you connected.
Nowadays, almost every hotel, restaurant, bar and even shopping centre offers free Wi-Fi to visitors. While this is great news if you need to get online, it does bring with it a number of cybersecurity problems. Hackers can utilise weak and shared connections, deploying Man in the Middle attacks in order to see the information you’re sharing on your devices. This could be replying to emails, using online banking or sharing sensitive data. Either way, you don’t want prying eyes getting access to this.
As such, you need to be cautious when connecting to public Wi-Fi. Don’t make any online purchases or bank transfers and don’t log into applications with passwords or email addresses. Where possible, it’s best to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to help protect your information.
- Don’t use public charging points
On a similar note to the above, you should be wary about using USB charging points in public. It’s great that many public transport systems such as buses and trains offer charging points, and at the airport they even have dedicated charging stations, but the problem is these have become a target for hackers. If you think about it, you use your USB charging cable to plug your devices into your laptop and download photos and other files, so your cable offers two functions: one to give power and one to transfer data.
Cybercriminals have begun exploiting this when unsuspecting victims stop to charge their phone in a public space. It’s become known as ‘juice jacking’ and it could potentially give them access to all the information stored within your device. Because of this, it’s best to avoid these public charging points when on holiday. Instead, if you need power when out and about grab yourself a portable charging bank that you can carry with you.
- Be cautious of unknown apps
Many restaurants and hotels are now offering more personalised and efficient experiences to their guests by way of applications. For example, the hotel bar might suggest that you download their app and order through your phone, so you don’t even have to leave your seat to get a drink. The problem is, these unknown applications can be a security risk, giving hackers a chance to inject harmful malware into your devices.
While these apps can be very helpful and sometimes offer discounts on your dining or holiday experience, you should always approach these with caution. Never download an app from a third-party site, always be sure to use the official App Store or Google Play. It’s also a good idea to read the reviews before installing unknown apps as others may have already flagged a problem or potential security threat.
At the end of the day, it’s best to only install new apps on holiday if they’re absolutely necessary. If you can ask for table service or go to the bar or reception desk yourself, this is always the safer option.
- Remove sensitive data before you leave
One more thing you can do to protect your personal data while you’re on holiday is actually remove any sensitive information from your device before you go. Even if this is only temporarily until you get back.
It’s a good idea to log out of your online banking or social media accounts and remove Apple Pay or other contactless options from your phone. This way, even if someone does manage to hack your device, they’ll be less likely to get access to your information.