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7 essential cybersecurity tips for summer travel

As you prepare to jet off on your summer holidays, safeguarding your digital world is just as important as making sure you’ve packed all your essentials. Cyber threats, unfortunately, don’t take a break, so these tips can help you protect your personal data and enjoy a worry-free summer.

When it comes to cybersecurity while travelling, it’s essential to be proactive and stay vigilant. From turning devices off when not in use to avoiding public Wi-Fi to using Apple Pay instead of carrying credit cards, these tips will help you stay one step ahead of potential risks.

Let’s dive in and make your summer cyber-safe!

1. Restart your phone daily or use Lockdown Mode

One simple yet effective tip is to turn your phone off every day. This daily restart helps clear temporary files and cached data that can slow down your device and potentially expose vulnerabilities. By rebooting, you also disrupt malicious processes that might be running and ensure that all recent security updates are fully applied. You just need to turn it off for 10-30 seconds for it to be effective. So, make it a habit to restart your phone either in the mornings or the evenings every single day. 

Or better yet, turn it off for the night and enjoy some disconnected peace and quiet. When your phone or other devices are off, it’s very difficult for attackers to abuse them.

Lockdown Mode

If you want an extra layer of security while travelling, you can also use Lockdown Mode on Apple devices. This feature provides more robust protection against highly sophisticated cyber threats by disabling or significantly limiting certain features and functions. (It can even help your battery last longer.) It’s simple to turn on and off; just note that your device will restart each time you switch it on or off. You can also exclude certain apps and sites from Lockdown Mode, if needed.

Learn more about Lockdown Mode from noted security expert Runa Sandvik

2. Say no to public Wi-Fi

When you’re out and about, it’s tempting to connect to public Wi-Fi networks. However, these networks can be risky. Cybercriminals may be lurking there, eager to steal your personal information. If you need to connect a device without mobile data, use your mobile hotspot whenever possible. It acts as your personal Wi-Fi shield, providing a secure connection for all your online activities.

A note about data usage

Using your mobile hotspot does consume data from your data plan. While small activities, like checking email, use minimal data, other activities such as streaming videos, downloading large files, or video conferencing can quickly add up. If you don’t have an unlimited data plan, we recommend you regularly check your data usage to ensure you don’t go over your limit.

VPNs are a good Plan B

If you don’t have access to a personal hotspot, the next best option is to download and use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to protect your sensitive information. A VPN encrypts your internet connection, making it much harder for cybercriminals to intercept your data when using public Wi-Fi networks.

3. Update and backup your devices

Don’t forget to update and backup all of your devices before you leave home! Updates are crucial because they include important security patches that safeguard your devices against the latest threats. Make it a habit to regularly update your operating systems, apps, and antivirus software. By doing so, you strengthen your digital defences and ensure a secure online experience.

In addition to updates, backing up your data is like creating a safety net for your digital life. Whether it’s vacation photos or important documents, backing up ensures you won’t lose them in case your device is stolen or damaged. Take a few minutes to back up your data to the cloud or an external storage device before you leave on your vacation, and schedule regular backups when you’re connected to WiFi so you don’t even have to think about it.

4. Turn on the “Find My” feature

The “Find My” feature is a powerful tool available on most smartphones that not only allows you to track your device’s location but also to wipe or remotely disable your device in case it gets stolen or lost. This feature gives you peace of mind and ensures that your personal information stays protected, no matter where you are. Make it a habit to check that this feature is enabled on your device before you head out on your summer adventures, so you can enjoy your time away knowing your device is secure.

  • Apple users: Ensure “Find My iPhone” is enabled in your iCloud settings.
  • Android users: Activate “Find My Device” in your Google account settings.
  • Other phones: Check your device’s settings or contact your phone manufacturer for similar features.

5. Turn off location services

While location services are incredibly useful for navigating new places or finding nearby attractions, they can also be a privacy concern when left on all the time. To keep your information secure, turn off location services when you’re not using them. This simple step minimises the chances of your location data being accessed by unwanted apps or people. When you do need to use location-based services, such as maps or local recommendations, adjust your settings to only allow location access while the app is in use. This way, you can still enjoy the benefits of these features without compromising your privacy.

6. Use Apple Pay

When making purchases during your travels, using Apple Pay is a secure and convenient option. Apple Pay employs multiple layers of security, ensuring your financial information remains protected. One key feature is tokenisation, which replaces your card details with a unique code for each transaction, so your actual card number is never shared with merchants. It also requires authentication through Face ID, Touch ID, or your device passcode, adding an extra layer of security. This means that even if someone gains physical access to your phone, they won’t be able to make purchases without your biometric or passcode verification.

Using Apple Pay also simplifies the payment process, reducing the need to carry physical cards and minimising the risk of losing them. This can be especially helpful when you’re travelling and want to keep your belongings to a minimum.

7. Guard your online presence

Your online presence is a valuable asset and, unfortunately, in the world we live in today, cybercriminals are on the lookout for opportunities to exploit it. The good news it that by taking proactive measures, you can stay ahead of these threats and keep your personal information secure.

Think before you share

When posting on social media, consider the information you’re revealing. Avoid sharing real-time location updates that could tip off potential wrongdoers about your whereabouts. Instead, wait until you’re back home to share your vacation experiences.

Privacy settings matter

Adjust your social media privacy settings to control who can see your posts and personal information. By customising your privacy preferences, you ensure that only trusted individuals have access to your online activity.

Watch out for suspicious activity

Stay vigilant for phishing attempts and online scams. Be cautious when clicking on links or opening emails from unknown senders, as they may contain malicious content. Trust your instincts and verify the source before taking any action.

Enjoy a cyber-safe summer!

When you’re in a new place and outside of your normal routine, it’s easy to lower your guard. So, as you embark on your summer adventures, just remember to take these small steps to ensure your online safety. Stay safe and enjoy every moment of your well-deserved holiday!

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