Data Privacy Safety Tips for Travelers: What to Know Before You Go
Devices like smartphones and laptops make our lives easier when we’re on-the-go by keeping a lot of information easily accessible in the palm of our hand or within easy reach. However, with this convenience comes greater security risks for our data privacy.
With names, passwords, addresses, birthdays, location tracking, credit card numbers, bank accounts, and more stored digitally, your devices are a vault of personal information. If your personal data protection is compromised, hackers can use your information to lock you out of your bank accounts, know where you are traveling next, steal your identity, and more.
“In today's digital age, where sensitive information and personal data are stored and accessed online, the need for robust security measures has never been more paramount,” said Frank Harrison, Regional Security Director Americas at Travelex Insurance’s assistance partner, World Travel Protection.
Amidst the advancements in technology that enhance our devices, hackers’ methods have also become more developed, and the consequences of a security breach can be devastating.
“Imagine traveling abroad and losing access to your smartphone, which you rely on for communication, banking, and even flight bookings,” noted Harrison. “Outside of the security concerns, all of a sudden you’ve also lost all the information and platform access you need while you’re traveling, which can cause a lot of stress.”
To help prevent your trip from becoming a nightmare – and making you feel isolated while away from home – here are a variety of suggestions for actions you can take to enhance data protection and increase data privacy before your next vacation.
Travel safety tips for data privacy while traveling
You may have security measures in place on your devices, such as a lock screen passcode or updated software, but here are some extra precautions you can take to make sure your personal information is seen by your eyes only.
Secure your lock screen with primary and secondary inputs
It’s crucial to have a form of security set up on your device lock screen before anyone can gain access to applications. You can use a strong PIN number, password, or biometric lock on your device to help deter hackers or thieves.
It's recommended that you set up more than one method of unlocking the device, as well as two different inputs for each method. For example, if you use a fingerprint to unlock your laptop, you can set up the biometric lock to store your left and right index fingerprints.
Use strong passwords
Have you seen your device suggest a “strong password” while setting up login information on a website? Strong passwords are more complex and, therefore, harder for hackers to obtain. To make a password that is more likely to be resilient to data privacy breaches, include a variety of letters, numbers, and symbols in a random sequence.
Use Two-Factor Authentication
Want to make it harder for hackers to gain access to your accounts? With Two-Factor Authentication, the “additional layer of security makes it significantly harder for cybercriminals to breach your accounts, even if they manage to crack your password,” shared Harrison.
If you set up Two-Factor Authentication, or Two-Step Verification, you will be asked to share two forms of identification before you can log into your account. For example, you might have to enter both your password and a code that was sent to your smartphone.
With Two-Factor Authentication in place, even if a cybercriminal steals your password, they will not be able to access the account and all the personal information that it holds. Without the additional form of identification, your data protection may be at risk, and hackers may even be able to lock you out of your own accounts.
Don’t use public Wi-Fi networks
It can be convenient to use easy-to-access public Wi-Fi networks, but they are not a secure way to access the internet. Open Wi-Fi networks that don't require a password may lack encryption, contain harmful malware that can infect your device, and more. To maintain data privacy, stay off public Wi-Fi and instead use a virtual private network (VPN) as a private hotspot or a Wi-Fi network that you know is secure.
It’s a smart idea to turn off the auto-connect feature for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to prevent open access to your device. This way, you won’t be unknowingly connected to another device or an unsecure public Wi-Fi network.
Install security applications and software
Add data defense to your devices with credible security applications and software, such as TotalAV, Norton Antivirus, and McAfee. Your data protection applications should have anti-malware and anti-phishing features to prevent cybersecurity breaches.
It's good practice for data privacy to consider turning on automatic updates for all applications and software on your device so they have the latest security features.
Install software updates
It's essential to download and install software updates for your mobile and computer devices before and during a trip, particularly given recent Zero Day attacks on devices globally. This proactive approach safeguards your data from potential cyber threats and the vulnerabilities hackers exploit. Regular updates ensure your device has the most recent security features.
Keep your devices in-sight and backed up
If your devices are not in-sight, they can be easily grabbed and stolen. It may be hard to remember to keep an eye on your phone, tablet, or laptop while you’re traveling, but it is important to prevent theft of the device and any personal information it stores. Try to prevent strangers from handling your devices for any reason.
Consider continuously backing up all the files on your devices to Cloud-based storage. If your device is ever lost or stolen, you will still have access to your files in the Cloud and can download them to a new device.
Protect your financial security
Just like a physical credit card can be skimmed, the financial information on your device can be vulnerable to cyber attacks. Always enable at least one layer of authentication to safeguard your financial apps from potential theft.
Check your device security settings
Have you thought about how you handle location settings for your device while traveling? In certain situations, keeping your location tracking off may help stop hackers from determining your location. However, there are benefits to keeping your location services turned on.
For example, if your device is lost or stolen and you want to remotely track, disable, or erase it, or you use a travel safety app like our Travelex Travel On app, which uses your location to send you important updates on real-time safety risks in your area and more.
So, if you are traveling in an area where your device may fall into the wrong hands or you want to stay on top of safety alerts that could affect you, you might want to keep location services enabled.
Extra data safety tips:
- Try not to share your location on social media, especially before or during your trip. Cybercriminals may see that you are away from home and attempt to break in or steal valuables.
Make sure your privacy settings are set up to protect your personal information, such as how your information is shared.
Enjoy your trip without the loss of data privacy
“Adopting a security-first mindset and being vigilant about the latest cybersecurity threats can significantly reduce the chances of falling victim to cyberattacks,” said Harrison.
If you remember to be aware of your surroundings and keep these travel safety tips in mind, you can increase personal data protection and enjoy a smoother trip. If something goes wrong during your travels, travel insurance with Travelex can help protect your trip.