Cybersecurity And Traveling: Risks And Safety Tips

August 30, 2022

Remote work enabled almost all of us to work and travel at the same time. The pandemic kickstarted the digital nomad culture while making a lot of companies turn to remote work for good.

All of this movement directly translates to cybersecurity risks. Since our offices have turned digital, we should have a talk about travel security risks and how to avoid them. Let us dig in!

Think about physical security

If you find yourself working from coffee shops, airports, or BNBs, you need to protect your devices from theft. Or, at the very least, you need to protect the data inside those devices.

The easiest way to protect your data is to lock all your devices behind strong passwords and add 2FA wherever possible. This way, the thief will not be able to access your data easily, even if they steal your device.

You can take this a step further by setting up the “find my device” feature on all of your gadgets. The setup process depends on your OS, but it is usually made of a few easy-to-follow steps.

The best thing you can do for the physical safety of your devices is to never leave them out of sight.

Avoid public networks and computers

Traveling usually means using public or semi-public networks. And since you will mostly be using any network you can get, you need to change the way you use the internet.

First off, avoid sharing sensitive info over these networks. This includes financial and medical data, as well as personal documents (your passport, SSN, etc.).

If you must use a public network, make sure you have a VPN installed on your device. With a VPN, even if someone listens in on your internet traffic, they will not be able to get anything, all thanks to encryption. VPNs can be costly, but there are plenty of seasonal discounts or black Friday vpn deals that make them very affordable.

Lastly, avoid using public computers for important tasks. You never know what kind of malware or tracker may be collecting your data.

Be careful around unsupervised USB charging spots

One common trap hackers set for travelers is a USB charging port infected with malware. Through a malicious USB port, a hacker can either upload something to your phone, or they can steal your data, all while you think your phone is charging.

With more and more USB charging ports popping up around the world, we can expect this to become a bigger issue in the near future. So, to avoid the risk of being hacked through a USB port, you can invest in a power bank or get a USB data blocker.

Double check app settings

One security factor people often forget is app and OS settings. For example, newer Windows laptops will automatically connect to open public WiFi. This can easily be exploited in public spaces. Similarly, on Mac, set your AirDrop to contacts only. And check the permissions you have granted to your apps to make sure they are not collecting too much data.

Be prepared for data loss

Lastly, you should think about some “what if” scenarios. What if your phone gets stolen? What if you lose your passport? What if someone hacks your work laptop and you can’t access your data?

The answer to all of these is — updates and backups. Make sure your OS is updated, and make sure to have all of your vital data backed up, preferably in the cloud.

Stay safe out there

When it comes to cybersecurity, your common sense (with a dash of preparation) is your best ally. Thanks to cultural diversity around the world, you can expect different cybersecurity issues wherever you go.

A little bit of digital hygiene will go a long way

So, double-check the links you are opening, avoid public WiFi and use a VPN, and make sure your apps are not collecting more data than they should be.

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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