Don’t leave your personal information vulnerable to hackers during your wanderlust. Follow the tips in this guide and you’ll be safer anywhere life takes you.
Passport? Check. Bathing suit? Double check. Securing your personal information before your next adventure?
Most of us are so busy booking tours and packing for our trips that we don’t take a minute to consider what we should be doing to protect our sensitive information from hackers in other destinations.
You can’t afford not to protect your credentials while you hop on and off unfamiliar networks, leave your devices in hotel rooms, or wander crowded streets of notorious pickpockets.
So to help you out, today we’re covering 12 tips for keeping your personal, confidential, and secure information safe before you head out of town.
Let’s start with one activity most people put off, but rarely remember to do.
#1: Update Your Software to Ensure Security Patches are Active
With an overflowing to-do list, one of the last things on your mind is updating the software on your mobile devices. But nowadays, that’s a huge mistake when traveling.
See, while these updates may not show many changes on the surface, they’re usually adding much-needed security fixes to your OS or applications.
If you decide to forgo the extra 5-10 minutes it takes to update everything, you’ll be putting yourself and your personal data at risk.
On top of that, you don’t want to get stuck updating a device overseas or on the road when your mobile network may be limited or more expensive.
Make sure all your devices are up-to-date well before you leave town. It doesn’t hurt to do a quick double-check the night before just to be extra safe.
Before you tackle any updates, heed this next tip first.
#2: Backup All Your Devices
Anytime you update your devices, it’s essential that you create a backup beforehand.
If the update goes wrong or something else unpredictable happens, your data will be available if you have to wipe your system or device clean.
Here’s why this matters when you’re traveling: In the worst case scenario that you lose your device or it gets picked up by locals, you’ll still have everything you need in a moment’s notice in your backup.
Once you return, simply plug the backup into your new device and it will be as if the whole nightmare never happened (minus the cost of having to buy a new device, of course).
Since this step protects you in two ways, it’s definitely worth your time.
The same goes for our next tip: You’ll safeguard yourself from unwanted cyber attacks in less than 30 seconds of your day.
#3: Clear Your Browser History
Clearing your browser history may seem like another unimportant step, but trust us, it’s definitely not.
If cyber attackers remote in to your device, they can see all the websites you’ve recently visited, including the biggies like your bank and email accounts.
And if you’re using autofill, life can get even worse for you (see our next tip).
That’s why you should make it a habit to clear your browsing history on any laptops, tablets, or mobile devices you plan on traveling with.
Better yet, set your browsers to private so they don’t track or record your movements ever.
And while you’re poking around your browser’s settings, let’s talk about why no one needs an unsecure autofill in their life either.
#4: Turn Off Autofill
Autofill is super convenient when you’re at home and on a safe and secure network, but as soon as you travel, it quickly turns into a hacker’s dream scenario.
That’s because it stores all your sensitive information without encrypting that data. Your logins, account numbers, and passwords are most vulnerable for hackers here.
Just like clearing your browser history eliminates the chance that hackers can see what personal sites you’re using, turning off autofill works the same way.
If your devices ever get stolen or broken into remotely, the digital criminals won’t be able to automatically populate sensitive information like your address, credit card numbers, and login credentials.
They also won’t be able to see how long your usernames and passwords are.
When hackers have all this and more -- hello, they now have full access to all your accounts.
Storing your passwords in a secure password manager, on the other hand, gives you the luxury of using autofill without compromising your safety.
This tip is often overlooked even if you’re not crisscrossing the map.
#5: Protect Your Passwords (& Create Better Ones)
Let’s say you forget to clear your browsing history. You can still have some level of protection as long as you create strong passwords that go beyond the all-too-common “123456”, “QWERTY”, or your/your spouse’s birthday.
Hackers know these tricks; these will be the first they try when they attempt to break into your accounts.
But just because you have a strong password doesn’t mean you’ll be completely protected.
Keep your passwords in a secure password manager like Joinesty and you’ll have bank level protection to encrypt your login data and hide your passwords from hackers at the same time.
Your email address(es) will also be kept safe and secure thanks to Joinesty. We’ll talk more about why this is important in tip #8.
#6: Use Passcodes (and *Bonus* Points for Two-Step Authentications)
Setting passcodes on your devices may seem like another step to slow you down, but this little gatekeeper is an extra layer of protection you need.
Think about it: What if your device is lost or stolen while you travel? Wouldn’t you want a passcoded wall up so whoever finds it doesn’t have the chance to steal all your personal info crammed in there?
If you use mobile banking, credit card apps, or check your emails on your devices, passcodes are a non-negotiable.
At a minimum, you should have a passcode with at least 4 digits. Similar to passwords, the longer you can make your passcode, the better.
Take this much-needed precaution further with two-step authentication.
With this, anytime someone signs into your account using an unknown device or network, a verification code is sent out to the primary phone number tied to the account.
If the login attempt wasn’t from you, you’ll know right away that someone is trying to hack into your account.
Make things easy for yourself and only pack a few devices when you’re traveling so you won’t hear all these notifications when you change IP addresses and try to log into your accounts.
#7: Pare Down the Amount of Devices You Travel With
Consider limiting the amount of devices you travel with to reduce your risks of a cyber attack.
While it may be easier to give everyone in the family their own device, you could be doubling (or tripling!) your exposure to potential hackers.
Do your children have your credit card on file to make in-app purchases on their devices? Do you really need your personal phone, work phone, tablet, laptop, and every other device you own?
Pare down to only the essentials. Lose one or have one get hacked and it will be as if every one of your devices was compromised.
The next tip on our list may not be one most people even think about doing.
#8: Use a Travel-only Email Address Instead of Your Main One
Most of us use one or two email addresses for everything we do.
The problem is, if that email gets hacked, those cyber criminals have access to just about everything too.
That’s why it’s in your best interest to create another email address that’s for travel purposes only.
Send your contacts, friends, and family members this email for communicating while you’re away. But don’t connect this email to any important financial accounts, such as your banks or credit cards.
Joinesty is the only password manager that lets you create a unique email address for every site requiring login credentials. You can stop giving out your personal email and manage these right from the browser extension.
You should also sign up for apps to help you locate your phone should you misplace it during your adventuring. Let’s tackle this next.
#9: Set Up Find My iPhone/Find My Droid Apps
There are few things as frustrating as losing your phone. The second you realize it’s gone, most of us turn to panic and awkwardly try to remember and retrace our steps.
Instead of having to go through that emotional rollercoaster, download free apps like Find My iPhone or Find My Droid to help you locate your device before you lose your mind.
Download the app before your trip, set up your account, and try a practice run so you know exactly how it works should you really need to use it.
The last three tips on our list are all about keeping your information safe once you get to your destination.
#10: Don’t Be Tempted by Free WiFi
Many bars, restaurants, and cafes advertise free WiFi, but before you hop on one of those networks, consider this: Anytime you send account information across an unsecured network, you’re blasting it out to all the hackers on the same free bandwidth.
It’s as if you’re handing your info right over to them.
And it gets even better. Hackers may be able to remote into your computer thanks to your free WiFi entrance.
Avoid the temptation of free WiFi and use a secured VPN instead, especially if you’re on the road a lot. The peace of mind will pay for itself.
It can also be tempting to use the free computers in your hotel’s lobby. Don’t do that before you check out this next tip.
#11: Use Hotel Computers Wisely
Just like free WiFi gives potential hackers the golden ticket to your info, public computers are also sponges for your credentials.
If you’re entering your personal information (i.e., usernames, passwords, account numbers, etc), you’ll be opening the floodgates of risk.
You may be able to clear the browser history once you’re done, but that doesn’t mean you’re free and clear.
In many cases, the history is still stored on the device, not just the browser, which means anyone who works there or knows what they’re doing may be able to access your personal information without breaking a sweat.
In the same way you avoid free WiFi, reconsider using hotel computers or any other ones you come across in public.
It’s ok to use these to browse local attractions; signing into your accounts is not and should be avoided.
You’ll also want to steer clear of making this next common vacation mistake.
#12: Turn Off Your WiFi & Bluetooth
Unless you’re at home or connected to your bluetooth headphones, your WiFi and Bluetooth should remain off.
Anytime you leave these on while you’re traveling, you leave your device vulnerable to hackers connecting right to your device. This is bad news for your secure information.
Travel Smarter & You’ll Keep Your Personal Information Safer
Traveling should be a smooth and relaxing experience. But if you’re constantly worried about security risks (or not prepared if a hacking attack happens to you), you’ll quickly turn any trip sour.
Follow the tips in this guide and you’ll keep your personal information protected.
Learn how to find the best password manager by this afternoon or before your next trip. Here at Joinesty, we believe everyone needs a secure password manager yesterday, but most importantly when you’re crossing off trips on your bucket list.