You have suitcase locks strong enough to withstand a serious beating. You have a pickpocket-proof purse that keeps your cash safe and sound. Meanwhile, you are strolling around a foreign city with your phone loose in your pocket, essentially inviting strangers to steal your data.
Phones, laptops, tablets, and other mobile devices need to be protected just as securely as your other travel gear, but few travelers bother to consider enhanced digital security while they are exploring the world. If you want your mobile devices to make it back home safe and sound, you should check out these travel tech tips to ensure they are secure from your first take-off to your last landing.
1. Update the OS
There is little more that your device can do more annoying than updating. Updates effectively freeze your device, preventing you from accessing your beloved apps for at least a few minutes. Thus, you probably delay updating for as long as possible, hoping to squeeze as much use as you can from your device.
However, updates do more than waste time; they address vulnerabilities, add security features, and do more to keep you and your data safe. Before you step foot out of your home, you must be certain all your mobile devices’ operating systems are fully up-to-date.
2. Strengthen Your Password
Plenty of mobile devices nowadays use biometrics, like fingerprint scans, iris scans, and facial recognition, as passwords. Unfortunately, as futuristic and unique as biometrics seem, they are incredibly insecure at times. Hackers, both black and white hat, have found dozens of ways to pass current versions of biometric locks, like printing out copies of eyes and faces to cutting off users’ fingers. Therefore, you should disable your biometrics when you go abroad and instead focus on strengthening your pins and passcodes.
3. Reset Your Security Settings
Believe it or not, your devices might have been their most secure when they were fresh from the factory. Default security settings are quite strong, and devices are better at protecting data before you start bypassing security features and saving cookies all over the web. You can find directions online to help you reset your security settings to give you the utmost protection. While you’re at it, you should log out of accounts that save your username and password, delete autofill data, and remove cookies from your browsers. Then, a device thief will have to work harder to steal your identity and data after procuring your device.
4. Invest in Security Software
Though devices come equipped with relatively strong security measures, it never hurts to have extra defense. Security software for Android devices will add layers of digital protection from outside attack, including anti-malware programs that scan emails, websites, downloads, and more for danger. Traveling is the worst time to be hit by malware, so you should prepare beforehand by investing in additional security measures.
5. Beware Wi-Fi
You probably already know the hazards of public Wi-Fi networks, where cybercriminals lurk, waiting for an opportunity to commandeer your devices. However, there are some countries where even seemingly safe Wi-Fi networks are dangerous. Just because you have to pay for internet does not mean your connection is secure; instead, you should look for encrypted and password-protected networks — WEP and WPA — which disguise your data from prying eyes.
6. Beware Bluetooth
Keeping Bluetooth pairing on and available at all times is a bad idea. For one, it drains your battery absurdly quickly. For another, Bluetooth devices can be hacked and paired with your devices, providing criminals with an easy gateway into your data. Bluetooth is easy enough to turn off when you aren’t using it, and it is also easy to make your device invisible to others.
7. Beware Networks
Most devices are programmed to search for networks and connect to the most powerful network in the area. Unfortunately, an emerging digital threat in some countries, called faux towers, is false networks constructed to attract devices, infiltrate them, and steal data. In fact, devices connected to fake networks like these have been fully commandeered; one story found a phone’s microphone listening to sensitive meetings, and another snapped pictures of users and those around them. Therefore, until you find a reliable internet source, you should keep your devices in airplane mode or turned off.
8. Beware Social Media
As much as you might want to draw attention to your travels by posting pictures and updates on social media, this is simply another way to give criminals weapons against you. By tracking your whereabouts, criminals can determine when you aren’t at home to rob you blind. They might also discern your location abroad and use insecure networks there to hack into your devices. Thus, you should wait until after your trip to gab about your recent vacation.