Summer is finally here. For kids of course, that boils down to camp and freedom. Lucky them. For the adults among us, it doesn’t always work out that way. Work doesn’t actually stop the way school does, leaving mom and dad completely exhausted while the kids get to loaf around. Is there no justice in this world? Perhaps you might get a day or even a week off to chill with the people you love, if you’re exceptionally lucky. We sure hope you do, we know you deserve it.
But if you do find yourself the lucky recipient of a few days off and decide to take your kids,or your significant other or even just yourself away, chances are you won’t really be detaching all that much, at least not from your tech. Nowadays our tech comes along wherever we go. Think back to traveling before smartphones – No Waze, no Google Translate, no decent way to check out the real scoop on local restaurants. Now, thanks to our smartphones, we can travel anywhere without getting lost and we can find out how to say “I need the bathroom – now” in virtually any language. Kinda makes you wonder about all the effort that people put into their travelings before we had our personal information powerhouses in our pockets
As amazing of a travel helper as our mobile devices can be, we also know that there are lots of baddies ‘round the world who would just be tickled pink to get their hands on the information therein and in some cases, the device itself. In order to help you plan for a safe trip, The National Cyber Security Alliance has compiled a list of tips to help you keep what’s yours while on the go. We will summarize some of their most important tips and throw in a few of our own to make sure that both you, your information and your device go and come back safe and secure.
Tips for safe travels with your mobile devices
Password protect your devices – Make sure your device is locked with a password or biometric element. It’s easy to misplace devices especially when you’re distracted or exhausted from traveling. If your phone doesn’t require a password to enter it, you’re asking for trouble. Do yourself a favor for the long term good of your data and set up a password to enter your device if you don’t already have one already.
To set this up on the iPhone, go to Settings > Touch ID > Passcode. Then tap on “turn passcode on” . Then enter in your chosen six digit passcode. Do it one more time to confirm and you’re good to go.
On an Android, go to the menu and then Settings >Security >Screen lock. From there you can choose the kind of screen lock you want to use – a pattern, a four digit PIN or a full-on password.
Stay away from Public WiFi – Let’s say you’re abroad and have no cellular coverage. It’s tempting to use the local free WiFi networks you see listed in your available connection, right? Well, unless you can establish with 100 percent certainty that the connections are secured, you could get into a lot of trouble- It’s super-easy for hackers to set up rogue networks to eavesdrop in on your connection and if you end up hopping on to their network, they can see all your data. So when you’re sitting down to a picnic lunch with your family in front of the Louvre or Big Ben, don’t just sign on to any ol’ network. If you are staying at a hotel or are at a restaurant, ask the manager or concierge to confirm their network name and that it’s indeed encrypted. And make sure your phone isn’t set up to automatically log on to unknown networks.
Make sure all websites you visit begin with HTTPS, rather than HTTP – If you do end up using the cafe or hotel WiFi, use sites that start with HTTPS only. The addition of the S means it’s encrypted with the Secure Socket Layer protocol making it more secure than a typical connection (although thankfully more and more websites, even ones that do not request payment are starting to use HTTPS).
Use a VPN – A VPN or a Virtual Private Network is essentially an network within a network, encrypting all traffic between your computer and the VPN server. When you connect to it, hackers can’t eavesdrop or see any of your data. See, even if you do make sure to log on to your hotel’s actual network, as opposed to some snooper who has set up a network called “Hotel wifi’ these connections aren’t always the most secured. Using a VPN keeps you covered. Another added plus of using a VPN that’s based in the place where you live is that websites will still be in your local language as opposed to the language of where you are at the moment.
Log out of apps you don’t need at the moment and disable the ones you don’t need at all – Certain apps can track your location. You don’t need the guy who created that app that tells you where your car is parked in a pirate voice to know where you “arrrr”. Just log out of the ones you don’t need at the moment and get rid of the ones you can’t even remember why you downloaded in the first place.
Keep quiet on social media – Resist the intense urge to post all you vacation pix to Facebook. Sure you want everyone to know just how amazingly your trip to the Grand Canyon is going but by posting them you’re sending a clear message to non-digital burglars that you’re not home.
Turn off your WiFi and Bluetooth when they aren’t in use – Both Bluetooth and WiFi announce your location to anyone who cares enough to search for it. By turning them off you can’t be tracked.
There is no reason to leave your tech at home while you have all the fun, and anyway we bet you’d go out of your mind pretty fast if you did. By setting up some simple security measures you should be able to use your smartphone to help you in your travels and keep it safe all the while. Now all you’re missing is some sunblock, a big hat, and plenty of water. Hey Google translate, how do you say “sunblock” in Italian?