When travelling, how often do you consider your cyber safety? A search reveals many articles about travel safety tips, but they neglect digital safety. There are many ways in which we can fall victim to a cybercrime. We can connect to an unknown open WiFi source, or leave NFC enabled on our devices. Our passports or credit cards can be accessed by RFID (radio-frequency identification), and our Instagram posts can make us an easy target for home robberies. Today, we’re sharing some cyber safety travel tips that will help you enjoy your business trip or vacation without the fear of being a cybercrime victim!

1. Be aware of your internet access

To avoid problems with connecting to WiFi, consider investing in a local SIM card. Most countries have ‘tourist’ packages that provide you with internet service. While it may cost more, it will enable you to avoid insecure WiFi. If you must connect to WiFi in a foreign country, stick with reputable providers, such as your hotel.

For extra security, consider a ‘burner’ phone – a phone that you remove personal data from and only use for internet access. That way, if you lose the device or it is stolen, there’s no personal info other than a search history. If you have no burner, use a VPN (Virtual Private Network). A VPN helps by routing your traffic through encrypted servers. Some VPNs include TunnelBear, Hotspot Shield, and Private Internet Access. Also, disable Bluetooth and never use it in a foreign country as it’s a very insecure connection method.

Aside from creating a secure network, it can help you to get around banned sites (e.g. Facebook), in countries, such as China. This will allow you to access streaming services, which may be geo-blocked. Handy if you need to fill in some time or while relaxing after a day of travelling. There are plenty of different VPN products available, however, not all will provide the same level of protection, so it’s important to do your homework.

2. Be cautious when using your credit cards and passport abroad

Technology, like RFID tap-to-pay, makes life easier, but it enables access to others. Potential thieves can use RFID to steal your credit card information. From there, they create duplicates of your card to use them to buy things. While banks and credit card providers will refund you, it’s an easy situation to avoid. Canadian Passports now also include RFID in them. Potential hackers can access information, including basic personal information and your photo. To protect against data theft through RFID, consider a RFID blocking pouch or wallet. These simple items look no different than any other wallet or passport case, but are lined with a radio-blocking material. This prevents the device from sending out a signal, and prevents devices from accessing them.

3. Use social media with caution

One of the most forgotten cyber safety travel tips is around use of social media. When we travel, we often share our experiences with others through Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. While this is a great way to show off your travels to friends and family, it can lead to problems. There are cases of criminals using social media to target theft opportunities. Potential thieves can see that you are posting away from home, which makes your home a target while you’re away. Geolocated posts on Instagram or Twitter also share your location in real-time. This means that if you’re in a less-common area, it can make you an easy target. To avoid these social media problems, consider posting content later. You’ll still be able to share your travels, but it won’t put you in the position of being a target of theft.

4. Keep your devices updated

Make sure all your devices have the latest software and security updates installed. Turn off any file-sharing permissions or location services. Back up your photos and any other important items on your device to the cloud or a portable storage device as often as possible.

5. Turn off your Wi-Fi when not in use

Turn off the Wi-Fi signal to your phone when not in use. The same applies with Bluetooth and mobile hotspots if you are tethering to your laptop or another electronic device.

6. Track your device

Make sure your device has a tracking app on it, where possible. If, in the event it is stolen, you may be able to see where it is. Another handy tool is a wiping application; if your device falls into the wrong hands, you can remotely wipe all the data.

7. Disable Auto-Connect

Most phones have a setting that allows a device to automatically connect to Wi-Fi networks as you pass through them on your day-to-day activities. While this is a nice feature when used at home, it’s not something you should allow while travelling abroad. Before you travel, change this setting so that your smartphone and laptop must be manually connected each time you wish to access the web. This is one of the more simple cyber safety travel tips that can be a real lifesaver.

8. Watch your cards

If you plan to use your bank card or travel card while away, never let it out of your sight. Keep an eye on any transactions (on a secure network connection) while travelling and after you get home in case any unusual transactions pop up. Other options for payment include Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or Google Pay, which rely on randomly-generated tokens rather than using your card number.

9. Lock devices cown

Most smartphones, laptops, and tablets come equipped with security settings that will enable you to lock the device using a PIN number or fingerprint ID. Do this on every available device. While travelling, change the PIN numbers you regularly use. In the event that any of your devices have been momentarily misplaced or forgotten, this will be the first line of defence against a security breach.

10. Using Bluetooth

Be careful when pairing devices to Bluetooth-enabled cars. When you pair your device with a car, your personal information is stored on the car’s system. It’s best to not pair devices with rental cars, but if you do, make sure you delete any stored data and remove your device from the rental car’s paired device list.

Additional cyber safety travel tips

While many of us are excited to start planning our next getaway after a long hiatus, be sure to check out the Government of Canada website for the latest travel advisories. Below, you’ll find cyber safety travel tips to help you prepare for (and stay safe during) your travels:

 Before you go

  • Update patches that may be required by your computer operating system and applications.
  • Ensure you have all the software and hardware you need so that you don’t have to buy any in another country.
  • Use multi-factor authentication on devices, applications, and accounts to add an extra layer of security.
  • Some devices have an option that will erase all data if the password is entered incorrectly 10 times. Enable this option so that if you lose the device, that’s all you’ll lose.
  • Some devices can be locked remotely through cloud programs and offer anti-theft software. Find out if these options are available on your device and ensure they are enabled beforehand.
  • Before you leave home, back up your data files to another device or to software, such as Dropbox or a cloud storage program.

While you are travelling

  • Be aware of your surroundings and be mindful of people who might be trying to view your screen or keyboard.
  • Use your personal computer or a direct-to-wall-socket charging port to charge your phone. Avoid charging your devices on other computers or devices that you do not control, such as hotel docking stations. Malicious software could be stored on other devices that can be transferred when your device is connected.
  • Never connect an unknown device to your tablet or laptop. Any device that connects to a USB port (flash drive, MP3 players, smart phones, external hard drives, etc.) can be considered a storage device, and may contain malicious software.

The best cyber safety travel tip is to be cautious. Much like keeping an eye on your surroundings, do what you can to protect your digital security, as well. While these scenarios may not be as common, they do still occur. Practice safe digital security as much as you would physical security. If you are looking for the best insurance coverage for your next trip, isure has you covered! You’ve asked about coverage, cost, and what happens in an emergency – and we will always provide an answer.

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