So, when you think about summer travel safety, what comes to mind? Which beach you’ll be lounging on? Sunburns? Shark attacks? While sunburns and vacation plans are rational concerns most have when traveling during the summer, shark attacks are a new one.
With all of the news of recent shark attacks, people are now anxious about wading into the waters, despite the fact that the chances of getting mauled by a shark are a whopping one in 3.7 million. No guarantees, of course, but your odds are looking pretty good.
Conversely, the odds of getting your identity stolen or your other valuable information compromised while on or planning for these fun summer trips with the family are much higher. So instead of worrying about sharks this summer, let’s worry about the real predators out there —online hackers and phishing scammers.
In order to ensure you and your family’s online safety while on vacation, you first have to find an ideal and preferably well-rated vacation spot to travel. The Web is replete with scam sites touting glorious vacation spots for bargain prices. Be wary because a lot of these locations are fictitious or are actual pictures of someone’s home “stolen” from, for instance, someone’s family blog or social media profile. The thief will then put up a fraudulent ad for renters and will request a wired upfront payment.
Book travel plans only via legitimate, reputable sites. McAfee® WebAdvisor is a tool you can use that will help to warn you of most unsafe web pages. Make sure to check reviews of any private lodgings and use legitimate, well-known travel review sites.
We all love to share what we’re doing on social media, especially kids, but avoid using location services when possible. According to the recent Intel Security study : Realities of Cyber Parenting , one in three children who are active on social media turn on location services for some or all of their social media accounts which can alert thieves that you are not home, making you vulnerable to break-ins.
Many users are unaware of these features, but the service is available, and probably enabled on almost all of your most used apps, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. In order to fully protect your online data, when your computer devices are not in use, the Wi-Fi, location services and Bluetooth all should be turned off. Educate your kids to disable these services and not to download apps that request this information to run.
Additional Safety Measures You Can Take:
- Lock your luggage
- Do not post your travel plans online
- If you’re taking any computer devices along, back up all their data first
- Power down, password-protect, and lock these devices prior to travel
- The person next to you on the plane can visually eavesdrop while you type in login information—beware. Better yet, avoid computer use while on the plane, and watch movies instead
- Never use public Wi-Fi, at least for important transactions including purchases. Not only can thieves snatch data out of the air, but cybercriminals can also install public computers with data-stealing gadgets. If you must use public Wi-Fi for sensitive communications, use a virtual private network (VPN), which will scramble your data
Even after taking all of these precautions before and during your trip, your job is not done! Once you return home from your trip, it is vital that you make sure all of your information and charges are accurate. Make sure to immediately check your online credit card statements for unauthorized charges—before you invest time posting all about your trip on social media. Credit card fraud or identity theft can occur in well under 24 hours, so don’t put off checking your card status when you come home.
Robert Siciliano is an Online Safety Expert to Intel Security. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked!