The holiday season is in full swing and many people will be traveling long distance and the airport will be busy with hurried travelers just like you. But sometimes, there’s another element waiting inside the terminal, and they’re not there to catch a flight. Instead, they want the sensitive information stored on your digital devices. So ask yourself, how safe and secure is the information you’re bringing with you? This simple set of tips can keep you from being hacked during your holiday travels.
Use a VPN
A virtual private network, or VPN, is a powerful tool to protect your online privacy and security. Not only does it conceal the IP address of your computer or smartphone and keep you anonymous, it encrypts the information. So if you’re connected to free public Wi-Fi, let’s say at the airport, the VPN encryption will prevent would-be digital thieves from intercepting your online traffic.
Beware of public Wi-Fi
It’s so convenient, being able to connect to free public Wi-Fi when you’re away from home or the office. Sure, but it’s also risky. When you’re on public Wi-Fi, a good rule of thumb is always assume your online activity is being watched. Again, this is why a VPN is important for your computer – and so is antivirus software. That goes for your smartphone and tablet, too. Without any kind of protection, jumping on free Wi-Fi can expose your online activity, or worse. Information can be taken from your device, while malware can be added.
Don’t use a public charging station
Anything with the word public that involves your digital data should bring you to pause. That also goes for free public charging stations, which are becoming more and more common. Maybe you’ve seen these stations at a hotel, or in the mall. They’ll also be inside the airport terminal, possibly in the plane as well. But remember that the cord you use to charge your phone is also a data transfer cable, and those public USB ports could be compromised. Simply plugging your phone or tablet into a hacked port could put everything on your device at risk. To avoid the risk, bring your charging cable along with your AC adapter and look for a standard wall outlet.
Turn off GPS, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
If you’re not using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, disable those wireless connections – especially in crowded places. Keeping Wi-Fi active could allow a hacker access to information regarding networks you’ve connected to previously, then set up a fake version with the same name. This could cause your computer, phone or tablet to connect automatically, opening the door to digital theft or attacks. Bluetooth can be vulnerable as well, for example, the Blue Borne attack researchers discovered last year.
Watch where you leave data behind
You made it through the airport after following the steps above and now you’re heading out to your rental car. You get in and find that it has a full-fledged infotainment system that’s just asking you to connect your phone. No harm there, right? Not if you remember to check things out before returning the car. The moment you plug your cable into the USB port or connect via Bluetooth, the vehicle has access to a large amount of info stored on your phone. It wants to sync with your phone so it’ll continue to recognize and connect any time you return to the car. Double check with the owner’s manual to make sure you’ve followed the correct steps for that specific vehicle to delete your info.
By Damilola Faustino
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