International Cyber Safety: Tips and Tools for a Bon Voyage / Part 1

Whether your international travel plans include surfing the Costa Rican coast, roaming the streets of Rome, or collaborating with business colleagues in China, chances are (no matter how far you go) you’re going to want to stay connected. By following these essential tips regarding smart laptop, tablet and mobile phone use, you’ll be ready for a cyber-safe trip.

Before You Go:

Pack Light: We love our gadgets, but ask yourself: Do I absolutely need my phone, tablet and laptop for my trip? Chances are that at any given moment, at least one will be unattended and susceptible to loss or theft. You might be able to survive well enough by leaving your laptop at home. Files can be encrypted and saved onto a thumb file.

Also make sure sensitive data like passwords, credit card numbers and your SSN are not visible in documents like Notepad, Word, Excel, etc.

Back it Up: Whatever you’ve got, back it up to a safe place. If we’re talking your work laptop, backing up files onto your department’s file-share system would be wise.

Password Protect: Is your laptop password protected? Your smart phone? Maybe you don’t normally worry about prying eyes, but traveling is a more risky environment. Setting up strong log-on passwords is your first line of defense.

And TURN OFF the Password Autocomplete in your browsers. Let’s say you’ve checked a box to “remember me” on a banking website and have autocomplete on. Boom! A thief who’s got your computer would have immediate access to your account information!

You might want to go one step further by purchasing a tracking application such as Prey Pro for your laptop, tablet or phone in case of loss/theft.

Do a Safety Check: Make sure anti-virus/anti-spyware software on your laptop is installed. Disable file sharing, print sharing and unnecessary network protocols (e.g., Wi-Fi, Bluetooth). Also, ensure that your personal firewall is activated and that system patches are up to date.

Be Cryptic: If you’re taking a work laptop, it’s likely installed with a top-notch encryption software such as Bitlocker, allowing you to encrypt your hard drive as an extra safety measure. For the average home users, there are loads of encryption software options available.

Be Paranoid: Pick up a privacy screen for your laptop, tablet or phone and give “shoulder surfers” the cold shoulder.

Given all you’ve got on your mind in preparation for your international trip, that’s plenty for now. The next article, International Cyber Safety: Tips and Tools for a Bon Voyage / Part 2 offers helpful advice you can use doing your trip and upon your return.


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