How to Protect Your Personal Data While Traveling
Reduce your risk of getting hacked or having your identity stolen with these tips from the pros.
Change PasswordsKevin Emert, chief information security officer of Scripps Network Interactive (Travel Channel's parent company), especially recommends this step for international travel. Change passwords before you leave and again when you return home for the accounts you know you’ll use while traveling. 960 1280
Ensure Security on Your Devices is Up to DateCheck that antivirus, malware and operating systems are up to date with security patches and features, says Emert. Password-protecting your devices is also another layer of security in case they're stolen. 960 1280
Be Vigilant Against TheftWhile it’s important to take precautions against cyber hacking, Emert notes the most common problem while traveling with devices is theft. “Leaving it unattended for a matter of seconds could potentially lead to theft,” he says. Emert also cautions being mindful of those around you, since someone might be watching as you enter passwords. 960 1280
Don’t Use USB Chargers in Public Spaces
Emert warns there’s a growing trend of “juice jacking,” where criminals can gain access to information on your device via the USB cable since it contains two wires—one for power, and one for data transfer.
Criminals can also use the USB cable to install ransomware, which allows them to hold your device ransom in exchange for money. Instead of using a USB port, Emert suggests using the AC power brick that plugs into a power outlet.960 1280
Don’t Trust Public Wi-FiThis includes airports, hotels, trains and public spaces, regardless if the network is free, paid or password-protected. “If you’re on it, so is a would-be criminal,” says Emert. He also strongly cautions against connecting to financial institutions over a Wi-Fi network, particularly when abroad, whether through an app on your device or directly from the institution’s website. “You should assume that someone is probably watching you,” he says. 960 1280
Use a Personal Hotspot ConnectionA personal hotspot is a secure way to connect to the Internet via your wireless carrier's data plan if you lack Wi-Fi access—which is often the case when traveling. “Where a hotspot through a trusted carrier is available, that is a more secure method than choosing a public available wireless network,” says Emert.
Turn Off Wireless Features You Don’t NeedTraveling to a remote location isn't the only reason why you would turn off wireless capabilities. Emert says that services such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are designed to connect to available networks unless you have security features enabled. “Criminals can use those wireless connections to track your movement through an airport.” 960 1280
Use Your Debit Card as a Credit CardCyber security also pertains to debit and credit cards. Emert says it’s safer to select the credit card option when making a purchase with a debit card since it requires a signature instead of a PIN number. It’s still debited from your account, but the signature requires a three-day waiting period before charging the purchase, whereas debit is instantaneous. The credit card feature is also insured in case an unauthorized purchase is made, and Emert notes it’s easier to recoup those losses from a credit card company than from your local bank. However, the safest method is a credit card with chip technology combined with your signature.
The exception would be using your debit card at an airport ATM, especially if it’s with a well-known banking institution. “The risk of your information being compromised at that ATM are relatively low.” 960 1280
Leave Your Devices (and Non-Essential Personal Identification) at HomeFinally, if you can manage without your laptop, phone or tablet, Emert says the safest place for them is at home. He also advises leaving behind any personal identification you don’t need, such as additional credit cards. Or if you’re traveling abroad, there’s no need to carry a driver’s license in addition to your passport. “When you’re traveling, assume, from a personal identification standpoint … that it’s not a safe environment,” says Emert. 960 1280
Enjoy life and live in the moment instead of toting around your hand-held device or laptop. Unplug and immerse yourself in a new culture and destination. Siberia, here we come!
Out ' Internet Access/Wi-Fi
Don't be a geek. Checking Facebook, Foursquare and tweeting on your Smartphone is so old-school. Travel isn't an anti-social hobby. 960 1280
Underwear bombing is all the rage, which means we all get a free grope on the way to Grandma's house. What's that? You don't want the TSA creeper touching you? Step into the body scanner to the right, also known as the free peep show starring you.
Out ' Shoe scan
Who hides explosives in shoes anymore? 960 1280
The New Year will be big for New York when the memorial at Ground Zero opens to the public on Sept. 11, 2011.
Out ' Sleeping on Matresses
With the increase in bedbug infestations in NYC, where can tourists sleep without fear? Travelers can prepare in advance by checking hotel reviews online, using luggage liners, looking behind headboards and keeping luggage or clothes off the floor. 960 1280
With 83 islands featuring roaring waterfalls, tropical beaches and remote villages, Vanuatu is bursting with eco-friendly excursions.
Out ' Riviera Maya
Only 20 years ago, you could sneak into the remote, dusty Mayan ruin and crash next door in a $5-a-night beach hut. Not anymore. Cancun has officially jumped the shark. 960 1280
Bike-sharing really took off in Paris in 2007 with 20,000 bicycles distributed across 1,450 stations. Since then, networks have launched in Portland, OR, Washington, DC, and Montreal, Canada.
Out ' Segway
The Segway is out after the company's owner was killed when he accidentally drove one off a cliff last year. 960 1280
If you can work from home, why not work from Egypt instead? Any exotic location will do. Worldwide Wi-Fi and mobile coverage is expanding exponentially each year, and with Skype, there's no reason to pay for long-distance calls.
Out ' Staycation
You no longer have an excuse to stay at home when you can travel the world without ever using a vacation day. 960 1280
Contain Water DamageWater damage is one of the most common threats to phones, but a wet phone doesn’t have to ruin a trip. First, turn the phone off if it hasn’t done so automatically. Dave Dean, Founder of tech site Too Many Adapters, warns against turning it back on, since that can damage the circuit board. Next, put your phone in a sealed bag or container of dry rice for two days. It may sound like an old wives tale, but experts agree this can work as a first line of defense—although Dean feels it works better if your phone was dropped in fresh water instead of salt water. He also recommends silica beads (packets are commonly found in many food items) as another way to remove moisture from your phone. 960 1280
Deal With a Shattered Screen
If the crack is minor, place a screen cover over it, or use clear packing tape. If the screen is completely shattered, Johnny Jet, founder of travel site JohnnyJet.com, says to put the phone in a plastic bag until you can get the screen replaced. Be careful about cutting yourself on shards of glass. Phil Baker, president of the product design company Techsperts, says it costs about $100 to replace a screen, and repair stores can easily fix it.