As part of preparing to travel, cybersecurity is an important consideration for the
digital age. The information stored on a phone or laptop can be just as valuable as
the cash or card in your wallet, and must be guarded accordingly. Before departing,
there are a few steps you can take to secure your devices.
- Avoid publicly announcing any information about your travels, as this may alert thieves.
- Consider using a separate, potentially temporary personal device for travel.
- Ensure you have device location and remote-wipe features enabled, such as "Find my
iPhone." Additionally, know how to use those features.
- Set up device-wide encryption to ensure attackers can't extract personal information.
- Switch from unreliable biometric authentication, such as fingerprint unlocking, to
passwords or patterns.
While out and about, there are a few practices you may wish to implement in order
to stay safe both digitally and physically.
- Avoid online transactions that don't use secure HTTP. Secure connections are evidenced
by the green lock in your URL bar, though this doesn't guarantee page security.
- Ensure your items are protected physically. Pickpockets are a particular problem in
tourist destinations, and prevention is more effective than reaction. Keep personal
items close, and check frequently for phone/keys/wallet.
- Keep services such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth disabled on your device unless necessary.
- Take advantage of safes when provided by your hotel or residence, and keep important
items such as authentication devices inside.
- When using public wireless such as hotspots or internet cafes, bear in mind that any
unencrypted data may be compromised. Look for the green lock icon to signify protection.
Additionally, international travel may require a few special precautions:
- As risks are even higher, it may be desirable to encrypt your devices' entire wireless
communication. Purchasing a quality VPN from a reputable host and nation can help
protect your information abroad.Using a VPN or proxy may also let you access domestic
services by masking your location.
- Keep devices locked down or shut off in densely populated areas such as airports.
- Usage of a temporary phone is further encouraged while international, especially given
domestic phones will likely be subject to roaming charges.
Even after your vacation is over, it's important to stay vigilant regarding your online
security. Upon returning home, here are a few steps which can further ensure your
- Change any PINs and passwords used while abroad.
- Fully scan all of your devices for viruses and malware.
- If you used temporary devices while traveling, ensure they are fully powered off and
disconnected until their next usage.
- If your travel required you to download any extra apps, remove them and their associated
data unless specifically needed.