It’s getting close to the holidays for many, which means that more and more people will be on the move. Here are five simple tips to reduce the risk of security incidents during the summer holidays.
1. Update and backup
Make sure all devices, such as mobiles, tablets and computers, are updated and backed up before you go away on holiday. Updating your device as soon as new updates are available reduces the risk of your device being hacked due to older security flaws. Also be sure to take a backup if you haven’t already, so that information such as photos and documents can be easily restored if the device is stolen or lost in the lake.
2. Protect devices with passcode or equivalent
Be sure to protect the login to all your devices. Preferably with fingerprints/biometrics if available, but at least with passcode or password. Most modern mobile devices are automatically encrypted when the protection is cleared, which makes the work of a potential attacker significantly more difficult and thus reduces the risk of you losing your information.
3. Avoid open wireless networks
Preferably avoid using open wireless networks (wifi) as much as possible when you are travelling. Many attacks are enabled through open, unsecured networks, which in the worst case can lead to others being able to see what you surf, what passwords you use and other information that can be used to escalate an attack. Even encrypted (password-protected networks) that don’t belong to yourself or someone you trust can pose a risk.
Rather use the mobile data included in your phone plan when you need to surf on the go (even when traveling within the EU now that extra roaming charges have been removed). If you need to use the computer, you can also use the mobile phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot by sharing its data.
4. Don’t share everything with everyone
Review your security settings on the social networks you use. Maybe everyone doesn’t need to know that the house is empty when the whole family is away on vacation for two weeks? Make sure that only your friends and contacts see your posts so that criminals cannot get information that you are not at home. Make your profiles private and control its security settings. On Facebook, for example, you can see how your profile looks to someone who is not your friend through the “View Activity Log” and “View as…” functions.
5. Be aware of scams
If a friend contacts you via social media and claims to have been robbed while on vacation and needs money sent to them, it’s time to turn a blind eye. This is usually a recurring way for fraudsters who have managed to hijack accounts on social media to cheat money from the account holder’s friends and family. Especially during holiday periods, when many people are expected to be out and about.
If you receive requests like these, it’s always a good idea to verify that the information is indeed correct by trying to contact the person in question by phone (and not their social media, which the attacker may have taken over), alternatively try to get hold of someone in the person’s company .