SUN, SEA AND CYBERCRIME

I have unashamedly copied this blog from Team Cymru Blog

And so, dear reader, the summer season is upon us. Depending on your exact locale, the roads are probably either emptying or filling up with cars loaded down with suitcases, roof boxes, bicycles and excitable kids. You may be planning your own trip, either domestically or abroad, looking forward to a week or two of chilling out by the pool with a good book.

Unfortunately, it seems that cybercriminals didn’t get the memo and will continue working right through the summer. So what can we do to help prevent these guys from spoiling the party? Well, here are a few points to consider.

Our first tip is an old chestnut, but it bears repeating. Before you leave, be discreet; even traditional criminals can use social media. Don’t make your house an attractive target by publicizing when you will be away, especially right next to a nice picture of your place, or worse, your address.

While packing, consider what you really need to take. Do you need your smartphone, tablet and laptop? If you don’t take it, it can’t fall into the wrong hands while you’re away (unless your house gets burgled, see the previous point). Consider what data you have stored on the devices that you do take, what accounts does it have access to? If this isn’t something you’re going to need during your trip, perhaps it’s best to remove it.

If you do choose to pack one or more devices that necessarily contain sensitive data, consider encryption options. However, make yourself aware of any and all applicable rules regarding traveling with encrypted devices and act accordingly. Enabling a passcode on a phone is probably wise, if you haven’t already done so. Services that will allow you to remotely wipe a missing phone are also worth investigating.

While you’re at it, what a great time to think about backing up your data and ensuring you retain those things you care about. Don’t leave the back up drive in the same place as your device and ensure you encrypt it. Not only does this secure your treasured digital memories in the event of theft, but you can also give yourself a pat on the back as it means you just guarded against damage by ransomeware as well. You’ll probably need the space on your camera anyway!

While you’re away, remember that popular tourist spots are often a magnet for pickpockets. Keep your wits about you, and ensure any tech you have on your person is securely tucked away. Think about the options for secure storage, you may choose to trust a hotel safe, though they have a fairly poor reputation. If you’re camping, you may have no access secure storage at all – it’s probably best to factor these considerations in when selecting what you bring with you.

Say you decide to leave all your gadgets at home. But – oh no – you forgot to wish Auntie Ethel happy birthday. But that’s ok, Auntie would be just as pleased to receive a heartfelt email, and the hotel has a communal PC in the lobby. Don’t do it! The same goes for cybercafés, even relatives’ computers. If you have no way of verifying the status of the machine, don’t trust it for anything more than general browsing. Is it running anti-virus? Has it been patched at any point in the last 6 years? Did the last user install a keylogger? Just buy Auntie Ethel a nice box of local candies instead, for delivery on your return.

Ok, so you brought your own laptop, and the hotel/airport/coffee shop you’re visiting is good enough to provide complementary WiFi access, that’s nice of them. Again, treat this with a level of suspicion and be mindful of what activities you use the network for. Ideally, make use of a VPN service to help secure your traffic in transit.

If the worst should happen and your device is stolen, try not to panic. Consider what was on the device when it was lost. Will it automatically download your email? If so, what does that contain? Think about resetting passwords for accounts that may now be compromised – from a known-safe device, not the dodgy PC in the lobby. Depending on the situation, it may be advisable to contact your bank or workplace back home. Do your best to remain calm, and think clearly through all the possible ramifications. Under stress, it can be difficult to avoid knee-jerk reactions, consider outlining a simple worst-case scenario plan in your head before you leave.

Ultimately, there’s no one right answer when it comes to cyber security while traveling (hell, that’s not even the case at home). Even with the best of intentions and forethought, things can and do go wrong. But with a little planning many of the risks can be mitigated, or avoided altogether. Leaving you to get on with what’s really important, having an amazing vacation!

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