By: Kevin Kraus
Do you have your summer travels planned yet? As you prepare for the fun part of summer travels, we want to remind you that while you’re away, cybercriminals will prey. Below is your safe travel cyber checklist.
Don’t use social media to advertise your travel plans. We maintain a strict policy with our kids when we travel that they are not allowed to post pictures, itineraries, or other travel related information on any social media site until we return from our trip. It is just too easy for cyber criminals to stalk social media and find out that you will be in South Africa for two weeks and use the opportunity to break into your home.
Be wary of public Wi-Fi. I am sure you are tired of continually hearing this, but I find it continues to be violated especially when overseas. Remember, the hotel’s Wi-Fi, Starbucks, or any other public Wi-Fi is not safe. I would recommend you sign up for your phone carrier’s travel plan and only use your phone’s personal Hot-Spot. If you must use any external network while traveling, do not ever log-in to check your bank or brokerage balances (including PayPal) or log into any other financially sensitive site. If you mistakenly do, be sure to change log-in names and passwords immediately.
Watch where you get your cash. Here again, the risk seems to be greater overseas although ATM thieves are getting increasingly more brazen here in the States. An ATM machine is a great place for identity thieves to gain access to your banking information. We always recommend that you use a bank ATM whenever possible as they tend to be more secure. If traveling abroad, it is best to get some cash up front so you are not scrambling to get cash when arriving and make the mistake of using easily hacked ATM machines. Also, when traveling overseas, I maintain an account at a bank different from my regular bank where I will deposit enough cash to cover my expected cash needs while traveling and will only use that ATM card. If I get hacked, all that is “at risk” is the amount of cash I expected to need and not my entire checking and savings balance.
Turn off your home computer. Many of us might leave our computers on as a habit, but leaving it on makes the computer more susceptible to hacking.
Protect the home. We suggest you contact your home alarm provider to let them know the house will be vacant and ask if they offer a home encryption tool. You should also consider disconnecting the garage door opener and locking it manually to protect it from thieves who can easily break the code. Finally, unplug any devices which are connected to the internet.