Tips & Advice

Traveling Smart, Safe and Secure

Presented by Larry Larsen
Director of Cyber Security, Apple FCU


I ran across a really great article on TechRepublic.com’s website about a report by IBM on cyber security and business travel. We discussed security and international travel a couple of months ago, but they have some great tips in the report that I want to share with you.

When we’re traveling for any reason, we’re outside of our normal comfort zone regarding personal and cyber security. We have to rely on payment systems, Internet connections, and even transport options that we have little to no control over, so we have to be even more vigilant while we’re on the road.

IBM presented six ways in which travelers can keep themselves and their families safe when they’re away from home:



1. MONITOR LOYALTY REWARDS

Many credit card, airline, and hotel companies now offer reward programs that can be extremely valuable to the account holder for future travel, but the information in them can also be stolen by cyber crooks and cashed in. Monitor your rewards programs just like any other credit account, and if you see any activity you don’t recognize, contact Support and get it investigated.

2. BE CAREFUL WITH PUBLIC WIFI

Yes, you’ve seen this before, but it’s still a huge potential threat. If you have no choice but to use public networks that don’t require a private password, use a personal VPN on your mobile device to protect yourself and your data. (See my May column for more on personal VPNs.)

3. WATCH WHERE YOU CHARGE

This is a recently-considered risk: bad guys exploiting publically available USB charging stations to steal data. Any time you plug your device in to a USB port to charge it, there’s a chance that it may create a data connection to something on the other side.

Bring a fully-charged external battery if you think you’ll run your device down, or get a data blocker device to prevent a data connection over USB.

4. SHUT DOWN CONNECTIONS YOU DON’T NEED

Going into “Airplane mode” has become a habit when we fly and want to use our laptops or tablets, but it’s wise to turn off things like AirDrop and Bluetooth if you don’t need them at the time. 

5. SHRED YOUR TRAVEL DOCUMENTS

Anything with personal information, such as ticket receipts, boarding passes, hotel bills, etc., can be recovered and used to build an identity-theft effort by crooks. Shred everything as soon as it’s no longer needed.

6. BE CAREFUL WITH DEBIT CARDS

Try not to use a debit card when you’re traveling; at least run it as credit when you can. I’ve had payment card information stolen at the beach when paying for dinner, but Visa covered the loss. That protection isn’t available on a debit card transaction, and one can never guarantee that the merchant’s network is secure.