As many of you head out on vacation before school starts, you may find that obstacles outside your control threaten your trip. Weather and airline delays are two such examples. Many obstacles, however, are within your sphere of influence. Cyber preparedness is one of them. The following tips will ensure a cyber worry-free vacation no matter where you go:
- Turn on security features. Imagine taking off and realizing you left your mobile phone charging at the gate. If you haven't yet done so, set up the Find My Phone feature before you go. Doing so will let you locate your phone remotely, arrange the return or, as a last resort, remotely wipe the device. Just follow the Apple or Android Also, make sure all devices are password-protected, and use a passcode or another security feature such as a swipe, fingerprint or facial recognition feature.
- Limit the use of public Wi-Fi. Public Wi-Fi delivers convenience but not security. Using it occasionally to find a restaurant or local events is perfectly fine; however, trying to book a restaurant or purchase event tickets using your credit card while on public Wi-Fi is not a good idea. Using an application over your mobile carrier network is a safer alternative for making purchases.
- Update your system. If you are taking any personal or work device (laptop, tablet, phone) with you, make sure your device has the most recent security updates. You don't want to read a headline about a security breach and then spend the rest of your trip worrying. And while you are preparing, spare the world the intimate details. Make your Out of Office reply short and professional, and leave out as many details as you can afford to do. Remember: Seemingly innocent details can result in a successful social engineering attack against your colleagues.
- Use multifactor authentication. If you haven't established one already, this is a good time to do it. With you using unknown and insecure networks while traveling, that second factor can come in handy. This resource guide covers the majority of applications and services that support two-factor authentication. Accidental account compromise can quickly ruin your vacation.
- Be careful with a USB thumb drive. Vacation implies that you shouldn't be working, but if you take a USB drive to wrap up that last report, the last thing you want to do is to use it on the public computer (i.e., hotel or Internet cafe). Forwarding that spreadsheet to your personal email account is not a better alternative. If you must finish something while on vacation, take your work laptop with you.
Have a safe and worry-free vacation.