Traveling? Don’t forget to pack good cyber habits
Vacationers and business travelers put their house lights on timers and their mail on hold when they travel away from home. But did you know that it’s just as important when taking a trip to think about cyber safety? That’s because many cyber criminals specifically target travelers.
Sensitive data, such as login names and passwords, are especially valuable to criminals. One way criminals obtain such data is by installing a “keylogger” on public computers at hotels and Internet cafés. Keyloggers record every keystroke typed on a computer and then transmit that information to hackers.
Some cyber criminals specialize in “sniffing” the open Wi-Fi at airports and coffee shops, allowing them to collect and read all information sent over a wireless network. It’s remarkably easy to do.
Other criminals use a practice called “juice jacking,” where they rig a public charging kiosk to siphon information directly from your device when you plug into it.
Who’s the boss?
Social engineers use psychological manipulation to get people to perform actions or divulge confidential information. They often use information about a boss’ vacation to gain access to a system or commit financial fraud. Social engineers know they can reference the boss and the boss will not be reachable to verify whether he/she really did order the “repairman” or give instructions for a wire transfer. It pays to be suspicious.
When in Rome …
Different countries have different laws, which may allow government employees or law enforcement full access to your device without your knowledge or permission. Some countries are known to collect all data residing in that country, while others collect data from devices left in hotel rooms. This may be very important in countries that do not have the same freedom of speech as the United States. Some of these countries are known to jail tourists who posted negative comments online about the government or who posted pictures of criminal activities online, such as the use of alcohol or drugs.
Social media posts of your vacation pictures keep your friends and family in touch, but they also tell criminals that you’re on vacation and your house is empty. Other older posts might contain pictures of your home, showing thieves what items of value are in the house or how to circumvent security systems.
Luckily, with a little care, it’s possible to avoid all these problems. Follow these simple tips:
Easy tips to protect yourself
- Set your email’s vacation auto-reply mechanism to only respond to known contacts in your address book.
- Disable geolocation features, such as automatic status updates and friend-finder functionalities. And make sure geolocation is disabled in your camera.
- Be very careful about the kind of personal information you post on social media. It can be a treasure trove to cybercriminals. Don’t post information about travel plans or details. Wait to post the pictures and updates until after you return home.
- Remind friends and family members to exercise the same caution.
Easy tips to protect your devices
- Keep your electronic devices with you at all times.
- Before traveling abroad, change all passwords that you will use while traveling, and upon return change the passwords of any accounts you used while abroad. This includes passwords used by social media websites and email providers, for which you might have automatic logins.
- Don’t access sensitive accounts — such as bank accounts or credit card accounts — or conduct sensitive transactions over public networks, at public computers at hotels or Internet cafés, or when using open Wi-Fi at airports or hotels.
- Use up-to-date anti-virus, anti-spyware and anti-adware protection software; apply recommended patches to your operating system and software before you leave.
- Use wired connections instead of Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connections whenever possible.
- Do not plug USB cables into public charging stations; only connect USB powered devices using your personal AC power adapter.
- If traveling abroad, find out about the local laws regarding online behavior, as some online behaviors are illegal in certain countries.
Do you have a security-related question or suggestion or want to comment on this article? Contact the IT security officer.
Visit the iRiskAware page on CityTalk for more security-related tips and information.
Published Jul 28, 2015