Staying safe on the Internet is essential every day, but when traveling, there are additional concerns that users need to keep in mind. With Internet threats increasing, it is imperative to remain cautious when connecting to WIFI networks when away from the office. One wrong click could result in every file on a device becoming compromised. These six ways will help keep private information secure.
- Strong passwords. They are fundamental to securing private information at home and while traveling. Do not use any word that can be found in the dictionary even if obscured with special characters. The best way to create strong passwords is a passphrase. An example would be “This Is the Best Password I Ever Imagined, and You Cannot Guess It 2017,” which creates the password “titbPWieiaycgi2017.”
- Be skeptical of everything. The most common way for cybercriminals to gain access to confidential information is through email scams. Ransomware is becoming the most profitable tactic used by Cybercriminals, so be skeptical of anything that comes via email. This is critical at home and when traveling. If a message requires acting quickly or sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
- Public WIFI. Public WIFI is prone to spoofs. A Cybercriminal can set up an alternate WIFI device that "looks” like Starbucks or the Airport but is in fact hidden in a backpack about 20 feet away. Avoid accessing private servers or other financial or medical information while on public WIFI. If accessing confidential data is necessary, use a mobile device as a hotspot and connect via cellular. Make sure passwords on mobile devices is a passphrase as discussed above.
- Hotel WIFI. This is likely an improvement over using Public WIFI, but users could still fall prey if there is a hacker on the floor with spoofing equipment. Be cautious about entering personal or confidential information here as well. If a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection is established back to the office, it would be advisable to do so. It is essential to remain alert and hesitate to do anything private such as banking, medical records, etc. at hotels. If there is a critical issue and secret files must be accessed, a VPN will help shield sensitive information.
- Pop-Ups. Everyone has gone to a website, and suddenly there is a pop up indicating that Malware or a virus has infected that computer and needs cleaned immediately. Do not click on it! The best option in this situation is not to click anything. Often, if any part of the window is clicked, Malware will launch its attack. The last time I experienced this was when I accidentally went to www.ncdmv.com instead of www.ncdmv.gov. A problem was avoided by holding my power button for 6 seconds and powering down my laptop.
- Banking and other personal stuff. If doing financial, medical and other private things are avoidable while traveling, that is the best option. If a transaction must be executed, do it through a mobile device as a personal hotspot. Never use a public computer to enter personal financial or medical information unless there is no other option.
Always have strong passwords, be skeptical of other networks, remain alert when using public or hotel WIFI, avoid pop-ups, and avoid accessing private information while away if possible. Following these painless ways to stay safe on the Internet when traveling reduces opportunities for hackers to obtain vital information from devices. Remember to remain proactive with cybersecurity measures to prevent becoming reactive when a situation arises.
Read "Three Simple Tips to Keep Devices Secure While Traveling"
Want to learn more about implementing these suggestions into your data protection plan? Need to create a data protection plan? At Total Computer Solutions, we have years of experience with IT and network security. If you have any questions about keeping your information secure when traveling, just give us a call with no obligation at (336) 804-8449.