Stay Cyber Safe on Your Summer Vacation

by | Jun 15, 2024 | Security

As you dive into your summer vacation planning, don’t forget a crucial aspect that’s often overlooked – your IT travel security. In our increasingly connected society, safeguarding digital devices and data during travel is more important than ever.

Today, we’re pleased to share a few pro tips to ensure cyber safety so that you enjoy an uninterrupted summer vacation.

Passport, sunscreen, check! Travel Security ..?

Before you embark on your summer adventure, it’s essential to inform your IT Team about your travel plans. They play a crucial role in protecting your devices and ensuring uninterrupted access to your company’s networks, no matter where you are. Heightened security awareness is not just for executives traveling internationally but for all of us.

Keeping your software up to date is the most effective measure you can take to protect your computer, phone, and other digital devices. — CISA

Keeping your operating system and app software updated is also essential. Fortunately, it’s not a daunting task, and for most people, their IT does this automatically – whether their internal team or through their managed IT services provider. If you self-manage your device updates, we recommend enabling auto-updates unless you are on less stable developer release channels. This action ensures the latest patches are applied, reducing cybersecurity risk. Think of it as giving your device a much-needed health check before your journey!

Recent data reveals a concerning fact—60% of people fail to update their software regularly, leaving them vulnerable to cyberattacks. The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) underscores the importance of keeping software up to date to protect against known vulnerabilities.

Relax & Unwind, Verify the Connect

Once you’ve reached your vacation spot and started soaking in the new experiences, do your best to disconnect. But when you need to connect, remember to keep IT security on your radar.

First, turn off your device’s WiFi auto-connect feature to avoid unintended connections to unsecured networks.

When using public WiFi, make sure you’re connecting to the correct network. If you must carry out sensitive tasks, like online banking or accessing work files, activate your Virtual Private Network (VPN). Think of a VPN as a bodyguard for your internet traffic, securing your online activities. This is an often overlooked travel security necessity.

A McAfee study in 2021 found that “just 52% of people check if the [WiFi] network they are joining is secure before they connect. With even fewer using a VPN to connect to public WiFI, unfortunately many travelers expose themselves to potential cyber threats. McAfee’s Chief Security Advocate, Raj Samani, advises, “Using a VPN when accessing public WiFi networks is a simple yet effective way to safeguard your personal information.”

Let’s remember the importance of your device’s physical security. It’s best not to leave devices unattended in public places or hotel rooms. When you’re not using them, stow them securely in the hotel room safe.

A 2023 Wall Street Journal report revealed a worrying trend. Thieves spy on victims’ phone passcodes in popular social places such as bars and clubs. They then steal the device and access data and bank accounts. To mitigate this risk, consider using biometric authentication (fingerprint or facial recognition) and avoid entering passcodes in public spaces. (In late 2023, Apple released updates to iOS to help reduce this risk.)

Even though vacations are a time to unwind, maintaining vigilance regarding IT security is critical. Stay alert to suspicious emails or web pages. Don’t respond to unexpected MFA prompts (e.g., fake text messages from your bank and push notifications from an authenticator app). Remember, your IT Help Desk is just a call away if something seems wrong. They’re here to support you and keep your digital journey secure.

The FBI reported a 300% increase in reported cybercrimes since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, indicating that cyber threats remain a significant concern even during leisure activities.

Home Sweet Home

Your journey with IT security continues upon returning from your travels. Communicate your return to the IT team so they can restore your account to its regular settings. They’ll also check your devices to ensure they didn’t pick up any digital hitchhikers, like malware, during your vacation.

Enjoying your summer vacation and maintaining IT security in a world where you can’t always wholly disconnect need not be daunting. With these tips, you can keep your devices secure and enjoy your travels and time away worry-free.

Key Takeaways

• Inform your IT Team about your travel
• Keep your mobile software updated
• Disable the WiFi auto-connect feature on devices
• Activate your Virtual Private Network (VPN)
• Protect the physical security of your devices
• Stay alert to suspicious emails or unexpected MFA prompts

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