The holidays are always a popular time for travel, but before you buy your tickets, pack up your gadgets and prepare to relax, there are few digital safety tips that you should keep in mind.
Before You Leave
The first thing that you should be aware of is that scammers know that the holidays are a great time to launch travel-related scams, such as phony websites, spam emails and pop-up ads offering too-good-to-be-true airfare and hotel deals. If you end up trying to book tickets or reservations for one of these phony deals, you could send your credit card and personal information to the scammers. Or, you could simply click on a dangerous link in an ad, email or search result and accidentally download malware onto your machine.
So, when booking travel online use legitimate and well-respected travel sites that you have used before. If you end up seeing a great deal on a site that you’ve never used before, do some research first. Check other users’ reviews and be wary if the deal is far below what other sites are offering.
Once you have safely booked your tickets, make sure to protect any of the gadgets that you may be taking with you. Backup the data on your mobile device or computer before you leave, and just in case your device is lost or stolen make sure that you have the ability to remotely lock, locate, and wipe your device.
While You’re Away
Even on vacation, many of us can’t resist surfing the Internet, social networking and sharing pictures of our travels. While there is no harm in this, keep in mind that you need to take a few extra precautions.
Avoid checking your bank and financial accounts on public computers, such as in hotels and cafes, since you never know if the computer has been compromised. A cybercriminal could have installed a keylogger that records everything you type, including your login and password information. Or, you could accidentally forget to sign out of your accounts, allowing subsequent users to access them.
You should also resist checking financial accounts via your mobile device on public Wi-Fi networks. If the network you’re connecting to isn’t secure, it’s relatively easy for someone to intercept the information you are transmitting.
Another thing most people love to do while traveling is take pictures on their mobile phones, but you need to be careful about where you share these pictures since they include geotagging information, which reveals the exact location of where the picture was taken in the image file.
If you post pictures online to social networking sites, you could potentially give away information such as the hotel you’re staying at.
Also, if you post status updates about your trip and pictures of your vacation while you’re away, someone with bad intentions might spot them and decide that it is good time to rob your home. If you’ve already posted pictures from home with the geolocation information included, it could be very easy to pinpoint your address.
Your best bet is to learn how to turn off the geolocation services on your device, or to only post travel pictures after you’ve returned home.
After Your Trip
Once your home, don’t forget to carefully check your financial statements for any suspicious charges. Now is the perfect time to upload all of your travel photos and brag to your friends and family about what a great trip you had.
Here are a few other tips to make sure that you and your information stay safe while traveling:
- When searching for online travel deals, use a safe search tool such as McAfee SiteAdvisor® software, which warns you if a site is safe to click on right in your search results.
- Never click on a link in a pop-up ad, or spam email.
- When on a travel website you’ve never used before, check for telltale signs that it might be fake, such as misspellings, poor grammar and low resolution pictures. If you are still unsure, you may want to contact the accommodation provider or airline directly to verify the deal.
- Consider using a product such as McAfee® Mobile Security, which can help you remotely locate, lock and wipe your mobile device in the case of theft or loss, as well as backup and restore your information.
- Delete any sensitive personal or financial information off your device before you leave. If you have backed up your data, you can restore it when you return home.
- For added security, create temporary trip passwords for your accounts and change them every few days.
- Password protect your device and set it to auto lock after a certain period of time.
- Save your sensitive online banking and shopping transactions for your secure home network.
- Carry phone numbers for your bank and credit card companies with you while you travel, in case of an emergency.
If you follow these tips on what to do before, during and after your trip, you can enjoy your holiday knowing that your information is safe.