Cybersecurity for Travelling: Security Recommendations and Other Tips

Staying Cyber Safe During Your Travels: Security Recommendations

Know the best security measures to protect your data when travelling.

Security should not be limited to only when you’re at home, school, or the workplace. Due to the advancement of technology and the rise of a digital era, which has offered convenience to people from all walks of life, you’re sharing much of your personal information online. However, it comes with a price because if you don’t implement adequate security measures, your data can be compromised by cybercriminals and hackers, who are waiting to gain unauthorised access to your data for identity theft or financial fraud.

Your confidential and sensitive data is even more at risk when travelling. That’s why practising safe online behaviour is essential, and taking steps to protect your confidential and sensitive data while travelling. When travelling, you carry sensitive data, including your passports and Personally Identifiable Information (PII). If they get into the wrong hands, it can lead to severe consequences.

If you’re planning your next vacation and have concerns regarding cyberattacks and security, don’t worry; this guide is here to help. We’ll walk you through all the steps you need to take to enhance your cybersecurity when travelling. So, if you’re ready, let’s get started!

Why is cybersecurity necessary while travelling?

cybersecurity travelling

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Cybersecurity is essential when you’re travelling for a wide variety of reasons:

1. Protection from public networks

You will have to use a lot of public networks when you’re travelling. You’ll use them in the airport, a random cafe, or the hotel you’re staying in. The issue with public WiFi is that they’re the most susceptible and vulnerable to cyberattacks. Cybercriminals can exploit these networks to gain unauthorised access to your sensitive data. Since public and unfamiliar networks are often less secure, it makes it easier for hackers to launch man-in-the-middle attacks. You can protect yourself when on a public network by using a VPN for travelling.

2. Protecting personally identifiable information

Cybersecurity helps protect your personal and confidential data from getting exploited. This includes your passports, travel itineraries, and other sensitive data, which could lead to unauthorised access and identity theft if gotten into the wrong hands.

3. Protection against social engineering

Since travellers often encounter new settings and unfamiliar environments, they may easily fall victim to social engineering tactics. Fake websites could appear legitimate and divulge you, revealing personal information. Once you fall for the trap, your data gets stolen and compromised. You can protect yourself against Social Engineering tactics and phishing scams by being aware and vigilant.

4. Secure financial transactions

You often have to make a lot of financial transactions when you’re travelling. This includes taking out money from the ATM or making online transactions. When you’re making online transactions while travelling, it can introduce additional risks. By using secure and encrypted connections and monitoring your financial accounts for any suspicious activities, you can protect yourself against unauthorised access. You should also be aware of ATM skimming when you’re travelling.

5. Protection against data theft

If you’re travelling with your devices, they risk getting stolen when you’re on vacation and in an area with many tourists. If your mobile or laptop gets stolen, your data will get compromised, as these devices contain much of your sensitive and confidential information. You can protect your devices by encrypting your data and using strong passwords.

Recent examples of cyber attacks during travels

Importantly travel and tourism sector ranked third in cybersecurity attacks, making it one of the most susceptible industries. It also revealed that online travel booking is increasing rapidly, making the industry a clear target for Cybercriminals. Contingency planning and post-breach responses are necessary to safeguard personal data and reduce consumer damage. It also says that companies should invest in managed security services and risk & compliance services.

A popular example is when Marriott International, a global hospitality company, became the victim of a data breach that affected over 5.2 million guests. The breach exposed confidential information such as their names, passport numbers, travel itineraries, and addresses. This is why adopting proper security measures when travelling is essential.

Cybersecurity tips for travelling

Here are a few tips and tricks you can implement to enhance your security when you’re travelling:

Before you go

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1. Update your antivirus software

Update your antivirus before you begin to travel. Reliable antivirus software will scan any emerging cyber threats on your device in real-time. They will also remove Malware from your device so that it does not infect it. This is crucial, especially when using a public network at an airport or hotel. Public networks are less secure and vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Ensure that your operating system and all other applications are up to date. Regular updates also include security patches, protecting you against known vulnerabilities.

2. Use strong passwords

Keep your devices locked with a PIN and a password. A strong password on all your devices and online accounts would be best. A strong password ensures that no cybercriminal or hacker can access your devices quickly. A strong password includes uppercase lowercase letters, special characters, and numbers.

3. Enable two-factor authentication & backup your data

You should also enable 2FA (two-factor authentication) on your online accounts. 2FA requires you to provide additional verification through an OTP (one-time password) sent to your email or through biometric verification. Back up all of your important data before you begin to travel. Either back them up on another device or software like Dropbox or cloud storage. This ensures that your data remains secure even if your device gets stolen or damaged.

While you’re travelling

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1. Keep tabs on your bank accounts

Regularly check your banking app and credit card statements for any suspicious activities. Constantly keep tabs on your accounts when you’re travelling. Also, be aware of skimming fraud when you’re using ATMs abroad as criminals can take advantage of this.

2. Use a reliable VPN service

Investing in a reliable VPN such as AstrillVPN, ExpressVPN, or ProtonVPN is a good idea when vacationing and using public WiFi. VPNs encrypt your internet traffic and mask your IP address, making it difficult for cybercriminals to intercept and decipher your data.

It would be best also to disable your internet connection when you’re not using your device. VPNs have a Kill Switch feature, which automatically disconnects you from the internet if the VPN connection unexpectedly drops.

3. Verify the legitimacy of emails & websites

Verify the legitimacy of emails and websites, especially regarding travel bookings, before providing confidential information. Don’t click on links or download attachments from unknown sources. Keep your devices secure, and don’t leave them unattended in public places.

4. Don’t use public access computers

Don’t use public access computers, especially if you want to purchase or access your online accounts. Even if you use a public computer, keep your activities generic and not those that reveal your personal information. Don’t add your credit card information or gain access to your financial accounts when using a public access computer.

5. Stay private on social media when you’re travelling

Don’t be in a rush to share details of your trip and the places you’re visiting on social media when you’re on vacation. Wait until you return home before sharing your memories and pictures from those days. Some could break into your house or steal something if they know you aren’t home.

Also read: These Are the Safest Countries in the World in 2023

Cybercrimes are rising, and your data can get easily compromised if you aren’t taking the necessary steps to protect your data. Your data is more at risk when travelling because you’re using public networks and carrying sensitive documents that, if compromised, can lead to identity theft and financial fraud. This guide outlines the best and most effective steps to ensure cybersecurity while travelling.

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