You can’t tell me Snowden wasn’t on to something. Not the whistle-blowing part, but the hackers-are-out-to-get-us part. In today’s modern world, cybercrime is on the rise. Gone (mostly) are the days when you would have to shield yourselves against pickpockets and people breaking into your home. Now, thieves have found a more vulnerable part of you to attack: your data and identity.
People do realize that their private data is at risk, and while it’s sometimes grossly exaggerated to the extent of paranoia, it is warranted. According to a 2019 study by Javelin Strategy and Research, 14.4 million people were victims of identity theft in 2018. How does this happen? Well, not only has most of our life become online, but hackers have also become smarter. They know to strike at times you’re most at risk, one of which is when you’re on vacation.
The good news is if hackers can become smarter, so can we. And we will tell you exactly how. Read on and discover how you can protect yourself from these online criminals while you’re on your vacation. Hint: it’s easier than you think.
All’s well that ends well
From the moment you leave your place to the moment you return, you take steps that determine how secure your online data is. Even before you leave your home, you’re engaging in activities that could leave you at risk of cyberattacks. An example is when you’re preparing for your vacation. You probably book your flights, accommodation, and car rental online. Pre-purchasing has a host of benefits, but if you aren’t careful with where you pre-purchase from, you could land in trouble.
Fool me never
Booking from an unreliable website or sharing your data with untrustworthy third parties can be problematic. On top of giving you a lot of grief during your vacation, it opens you up to the possibility of an attack. While you’re scrambling to figure out the logistics of your trip, hackers might be having a field day selling your identity on the dark web. It’s scary, I know. But simple steps like using trusted, known parties to book your flights and trip amenities, make sure your data, such as your credit card information, don’t fall into the wrong hands.
Swiper, no swiping!
Speaking of the wrong hands, there are a lot of them at airports. We know you love free things just as much as the next person, but it’s not worth it. Public charging ports can be found all over airports, and it’s tempting to get an extra few percent of battery to get you through long flights. It seems pretty harmless, and it probably is.
However, since these ports are public, everyone has access to them. If hackers reconfigure them, they can gain access to your device and everything on it. It’s best to stick to your chargers or get wireless chargers if you want to charge on the go. The inconvenience of carrying around your charger is nothing compared to the trouble of being hacked.
The public mistrust
Public WiFi networks are usually seen as a godsend, but they’re breeding grounds for hackers. Why? To put it simply, public WiFis allow anyone to use them, and if a hacker is on the same connection as you, they can tap into your phone and copy all your data. Our advice? Please don’t do it. If you need an internet connection, use mobile data or hotspot. Don’t get on any networks that aren’t password-protected. Also, please don’t fall prey to dummy networks that can fool you into thinking they’re secure. If you’re at your hotel, confirm which network belongs to the hotel before you connect to it. It seems like a task, but you’ll thank us for it.
On that note, let’s talk about VPNs. On principle, we shouldn’t connect to risky public WiFi networks. However, if you must, you cannot do so without a VPN. Most of us don’t understand them, and a lot of us don’t know about their importance. But take our word, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) will provide you valuable protection from unwanted snoopers. They will reroute your data so that your identity and location are kept hidden from people who want to use them for their gain.
Out of sight, out of mind
Nothing says protection like password, yet people still refuse to password-protect their devices. They don’t want to spend an extra few seconds logging in, and if most even do hackers’ jobs for them. “Not me”, you’re probably thinking. Well, do you have a different password for all your accounts? Do you change your password every few months or so? Do you have strong passwords that aren’t part of the worst, most commonly used passwords? If you answered no to even one of these questions, you are at risk of being hacked.
During your vacations, you are likely to lose personal belongings or have them stolen. In that case, hackers can easily access the information on your device if it gets taken and has no password or encryption. They can also do the same if you check in your devices at the airport instead of keeping them. If you don’t keep your devices on your person or leave them unsupervised in hotel rooms or restaurants, you might end up regretting it.
Secrecy is security
We know it’s tempting to post pictures of your trip on social media, but we suggest you only be one thing at a time: your vacation or your social media. In reality, you’re never just sharing moments from your trip. You’re sharing your location and, by extension, also advertising the fact that you’re not home. This leaves you vulnerable to cyber as well as physical theft. We recommend waiting until you get back to post your vacation pictures and videos.
Say no to single-use plastics
The plastic we’re referring to here is your credit and debit cards. Debit cards are linked directly to your bank account, and having your debit card information stolen can create a lot of problems in other parts of your life, such as online payment methods. Nobody enjoys dealing with card fraud, so our tip is to avoid their usage altogether. Keep local currency on you and use airport ATMs if you absolutely must withdraw cash. This way, hackers won’t be able to get their hands on your money.
With the state of the cyberverse these days, it has become increasingly difficult to protect one’s self from hackers. However, if we keep our eyes open and our devices closed, we can make ourselves secure. Look out for the signs of data and identity theft, and follow these tips to have a safe, hack-free vacation! If Snowden can do it, so can we.