With technology so intertwined with our daily lives, vacationing isn’t quite the disconnect it used to be. We now have the ability to instantly share our exciting new experiences with family and friends via a Facebook post or Instagram photo. But these same posts are sometimes seen by someone who was not the intended audience. A lot of what we read online regarding cyber safety while on vacation can seem far-fetched. Can a few posts on social media really lead to identity theft, home invasion, or loss of crucial personal information? The unfortunate truth is, it could happen to any of us. Because of this, it is important to be mindful in the days leading up to your vacation and until you’ve returned home safely from your trip. We have some helpful tips on how to make your information and home less of a target.
Asking for recommendations about which sights to see in a new destination or sharing your excitement for an upcoming trip is completely understandable, but it can also give away key details, like the exact time frame your home will be empty. If you do share a post like this, don’t list your specific travel dates. Before you leave for your journey, turn off geotagging so any pictures you share don’t give away an exact location and limit check-ins as much as possible.
If you do plan on sharing things while you’re away, take a few minutes to check your privacy settings beforehand and update them to more stringent parameters. The more private your account, the less chance someone unwanted will see your posts. As a general practice, it is also a good idea to periodically go through your friends list, weeding out those who shouldn’t really be there. If you’re traveling with others, enable tag approval so anything you are tagged in does not post automatically—instead, you will be able to review it first.
Keep What’s Personal, Personal
If you have a public business or personal page, only share updates about your time away once you’ve returned. Keep more telling posts to your personal page with the highest privacy restrictions. Make sure your home address is not on any of your profiles, or a home phone number.
Be Wary of Wifi
The opportunity to jump onto free wifi and avoid additional data usage can be tempting, but it can also make you vulnerable to prying eyes. Setting up a personal hotspot is a safer alternative, but understandably may not be ideal for those with more limited data. If you are using wifi, make sure it is a secure connection. Ensuring you have good security systems installed such as anti-virus, anti-malware programs, or a personal firewall are all additional steps you can take to protect your information.
Limit What you Bring
It’s best to only take devices that are absolutely necessary and guaranteed to be of use to you. Not planning on doing work while away? Leave your laptop at home in a secure location. For the devices you do take, one of the most simple things you can do to protect yourself is to ensure that all your devices are password protected. Even devices that aren’t that important to you could still contain pertinent information were they to be stolen. This practice is recommended for daily life as well but becomes especially important when traveling.
Personal Devices are Preferred
Only use your own devices to log into accounts, and avoid public computers like those in internet cafes or hotels. If you must use a public computer try to avoid logging in to particularly sensitive accounts such as bank accounts. Be sure to logout of any accounts you might have used before leaving.
Take a moment to reevaluate your current passwords. Does your bank login utilize the same password as your Facebook? It is best to use different passwords, especially for your most crucial accounts. If you think you will have to rely heavily on public computers or unsecured wifi, consider creating temporary passwords for your main accounts and changing them again once you return.
If a device does get stolen, remote wipe it as soon as possible and make sure you change any compromised passwords. Similarly, if you notice any strange activity on any of your accounts, immediately change the password and continue to monitor.
Being out of our typical environment is exciting and often gives a much-needed break from the daily norm, but it can also make us vulnerable. It is important to take reasonable precautions so a vacation does not turn into a nightmare. We hope these tips help you remain secure the next time you travel!
Check out Kelly’s Summer Reading List for great book recommendations to take on your trip!