Cyber Tips for a Plugged-In Summer Vacation

The summer months are often the most popular time for Americans to take vacations. However, as we shift our focus from every day routines to booking flights and scheduling time off, cybersecurity may quickly fall to the bottom of our list of concerns.

According to a recent survey by University of Phoenix College of Information Systems & Technology, only half of Americans worry about cybersecurity risks while on vacation, and the majority said they do little to keep their devices secure when they travel.

Unfortunately, today’s digital age places our personal information at a higher risk of being breached, placing an increased onus on us to take the proper cybersecurity steps. Lowering our guard when we are on vacation or away from home can leave us vulnerable to cyber threats. But, by taking a proactive attitude and knowing how hackers attempt to steal information, we can stay secure. Here are three tips to keep your data safe when traveling or on vacation:

Steer Clear of Unprotected, Public Wi-Fi Networks

It may be tempting to use free public Wi-Fi networks in places like hotel lobbies, coffee shops and visitor centers while on vacation, but hackers may frequent these places looking to steal your personal information. Accessing bank accounts and other sites that store personal information through public Wi-Fi are actions that should be avoided at all costs unless proper security measures are in place. Before leaving, set up an internet data plan or personal hotspot through your cell phone provider to ensure that your most important information is protected when you need to access the internet.

Avoid Sharing Travel Plans Online

While sharing travel plans and memories of your trips on social media is a large part of vacation today, it can encourage cyber attackers to steal your information when you’re out of town and distracted. Everyday actions, like keeping location services turned on, uploading photos and tweeting about flight delays, can lead hackers to your social media sites to find information that can be used for phishing emails or to break into your home. To avoid this, wait until you’re back home to share details about your trip on social media.  If you’re traveling with friends or family, refrain from tagging them in social media posts while you’re away to help them avoid more advanced scams like phishing emails asking for money.

Be on the Defensive

Traveling with out-of-date security can leave you open to unwanted breaches, yet less than half of respondents to the University of Phoenix survey said they take security measures when traveling, like disabling Bluetooth, changing or updating passwords, encrypting data or updating antivirus software. Before you leave for your trip, update your devices so they have the most recent system updates, antivirus software and firewall protections, and double check that all devices and sensitive information are password or two-step-verification protected. Once you’re on vacation, make sure all devices are accounted for at all times, and invest in a privacy screen to keep information safe from curious eyes.

Today’s connected world means we must be more proactive about cybersecurity. By following these simple security steps, you’ll have greater peace of mind when on vacation.

Read more tips on staying secure on your devices at TechCo

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Written by:
Dennis Bonilla is the Executive Dean for the College of Information Systems and Technology at University of Phoenix. Dennis has a wealth of experience in delivering technological leadership and innovation, spanning a variety of industries including education, telecommunications, energy and nuclear engineering.
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