Take extra care to guard yourself against cyber risks during your travels. Picture: Pexels.
Take extra care to guard yourself against cyber risks during your travels. Picture: Pexels.

7 tips to avoid travel cyber crimes

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Feb 25, 2020

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Whether people travel for business or leisure, many are not fully prepared to deal with the risks that can come with navigating new destinations. While theft of physical possessions, such as passports, bags and wallets are some of the biggest threats during travel, cyber theft is quickly becoming more likely – and with potentially bigger losses than just a missing suitcase. Last year, the South African Fraud Prevention Service said some types of identity fraud had risen by as much as 99% over the year before. This risk is heightened when people are travelling, as they are often navigating unfamiliar territory, leaving their devices in the open and connected to the internet and wifi. 

Doros Hadjizenonos, the regional sales director at Fortinet, shares some tips to reduce your vulnerability and exposure to potential cyber threats: 

Travel light

Try to limit the number of connected devices and take only what’s necessary. Be sure to remove as much personal data from those devices as possible, and take the time to back up data and devices. In this way, you’ll reduce your risk of identity theft and have access to essential documents even when your devices are lost or stolen. 

Encrypt data stored on your device

Try to use encryption software to keep sensitive data private, even if devices have to be surrendered for inspection at a border. You should also install a VPN application and know how to use it for those times when business or transactions need to be handled in a public setting.

Ensure the physical security of your devices

When your devices are not in use, be sure to keep your devices turned off and locked with a password to prevent them from being accessible to those who could use them for profitable gain alongside cyber criminals.

Don’t reuse passwords

While many choose to save time and energy by using the same password across multiple accounts, this can enhance the damage that is done by a single password theft event. To reduce the risk of password-based cyber risk, individuals need to get creative. This includes swapping letters for numbers or using the first letter of each word in a favourite catchphrase. For an extra layer of security, two-factor authentication is another viable option for protecting sensitive information.

Be aware of wifi and Bluetooth risks

Cyber criminals steal data in public wifi networks in various settings, including airports, coffee shops, and hotels. While these networks appear to be safe and still connect you to the internet, some may steal your data and user credentials. Turn off automatic connections for wifi and Bluetooth on your phone, confirm that a business’ wifi SSID matches what you are seeing on your phone, and set up your phone as a hotspot rather than using public wifi networks.

Avoid USB charger ports

While USB charging stands in public settings can be tempting, plugging a USB cable into these charging ports can enable cyber criminals to download your data while your device is charging. This threat, also known as “juice jacking”, can be avoided by simply plugging in your adapter to a normal electrical outlet or a portable charger. For those times when the charging stand is the only option, make sure your devices are turned off before they get plugged in.

Recognise phishing attempts

Phishing attacks are a common threat that many fall victim to regularly. If you are sent a suspicious link from somebody you know and trust, confirm it was, in fact, them who sent it – if not, their email could be compromised. Look out for key signs of a phishing scam, including bad grammar, misspellings, or uncharacteristic language. Finally, hover over URLs before clicking on links to determine whether or not they are genuine.

Avoid sharing information

When you’re travelling, there is no need to let the criminals back home know you are away from home.While cybersecurity may not be top of mind for most people as they prepare to travel, it can mean the difference between having a successful trip and having your personal information stolen. By understanding the cyber risks associated with travelling, you can effectively prepare and make the most of your time away, no matter where you are in the world.

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