Bags packed? check! Passport in hand? check! Reservation information handy? check! Cybersecurity precautions? check? Many of you are going to be traveling abroad this year and you have asked what you need to do to stay safe while away.
Going out of the country, whether for work or play is an adventure. Most of us think about safety precautions such as having contact information, contingency plans, even planning for the weather. But we have heard from viewers that you don’t really know where to begin to protect your digital safety. These tips are good for both for the leisure travel or adventure seeker and the workers traveling abroad on business.
7 SAFETY STEPS TO TAKE BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE HOUSE OR WORK:
Make a full backup of all your files before you travel. If you are going to take a device with you, remove sensitive data from that device, if possible
Make sure all the devices you take with you have auto lock turned on with strong passwords.
Create different passwords that you will use for the trip and plan to change them when you get home
Update all operating systems, browsers, and antivirus software
Pare it down – do you really need a smart phone, laptop, and tablet?
Sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program so the State Department can better assist you in an emergency, it’s free: https://travelregistration.state.gov.
Look at country specific warnings at the following State Department site: http://www.travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_4965.html
Enable the encryption feature on your device – call your manufacturer if you cannot find the steps to do this
PERSONAL IDENTITY & PHYSICAL SAFETY TIPS
1. When using an ATM for cash transactions, choose the ones at banks
2. Consider using RFID wallets and passport covers to stop closeby snoops from trying to read your information
3. Never broadcast on social media networks where you are going or checking in at locations in the moment – you not only tell people where you but you also are broadcasting an empty house!
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FOREIGN TRAVEL
1. SECURITY & PRIVACY=NONE
Do not expect security or privacy in Internet cafes, hotels, offices, or
public places. Many local networks overseas could be havens for malware – be suspicious of connecting to “free” WiFi or internet – it could come with a nasty “free” bonus.
2. DEVICE IN LINE OF SIGHT:
Always keep your device with you instead of in the hotel room, if possible. If not, discreetly lock it up. Assume that all information that you transmit: phone, internet, fax, or telephone could be intercepted.
3. FEATURES AND DEVICES OFF IF NOT IN USE.
When devices are not in use, turn them off and take the battery out to prevent GPS tracking or snoops via the microphone or camera. Disable services such as “bluetooth” and “file sharing” so you don’t accidentally broadcast your whereabouts. Turn off the microphone and the camera feature of your phone when it is not in use.
5. TALK ABOUT WHERE YOU WERE NOT WHERE YOU ARE:
Cybercriminals watch social networks frequently looking for those US travelers that have broadcasted they are away and target them for social engineering and other fraud scams.
6. DEVICE INSPECTIONS:
In some countries, if the customs official demands to examine your device, they might compromise it
7. MAYBE A LOANER IS A BETTER BET?
Consider taking a loaner device instead of your own – there are many companies that will rent a smart phone or tablet for you. Some international hotels will rent out a tablet or smart phone for a fee.
Travel tips from the National Counterintelligence Executive:
For tips for traveling abroad see the Department of State site at: http://www.travel.state.gov/travel/tips/tips_1232.html
New York Times article that highlights the perils of digital safety while traveling overseas
FBI’s Crime Center (IC3) Posted a notice regarding travelers picking up malware when connecting through hotel internet connections:
New York University highlights Step by Step Instructions to turn on encryption and other safety features for these devices at: http://www.nyu.edu/its/mobile/security/