Secure on holiday

Travelling without cyber stress

G DATA Guidebook

For many people holiday time is the best time of the year. Whether they venture out to a tropical beach or high into the mountains, nowadays hardly anyone can be without their smartphone or tablet – even when on holiday. According to our summer survey, for around three quarters of all participants their smartphone is part of their luggage in 2016. But where there is relaxation, there is also danger lurking. Cyber criminals take advantage of the relaxed holiday mood. We will explain in simple steps how you can fully protect yourself before, during and after your holiday.

Tips before going away

  • Booking: Caution is advised even when planning a trip. Ensure that you book on well-known travel portals that you can trust. Travel sites are also a popular choice for phishing or malware attacks. Rely on a security solution that protects you when you are surfing as well.

  • Updates: Bringing your software fully up-to-date is as important as packing your suitcase. Any security holes are closed by updates. So get your device ready for the holiday.

  • Password protection: Lock your device as you do your hotel room door. Set a PIN or a password in your device’s system settings. You can find out in our Adviser how to set up a secure password.

  • Encryption: There are simple ways for you to encrypt the data on your mobile devices. If you unlock your smartphone or tablet, your data will also be decrypted and will be available to you as usual. So ensure that only people who have the password or PIN can access your devices. On many smartphones or tablets you can enable encryption in the operating system settings.

  • Emergency call: Has you wallet or smartphone been stolen? Did you lose your credit card? It’s annoying, but it doesn’t have to ruin your holiday. Before going away, note down all necessary phone numbers you might need to block credit cards or inform your mobile carrier.

  • Software: Security software is generally a good option for making cyber criminals’ life harder. On holiday, it also helps to locate a lost or stolen device and, if possible, get wise to the perpetrators’ activities. Sensitive data can easily be deleted remotely from a smartphone, tablet or laptop using specialized security solutions.

  • Backups: It is even more secure if you do not take critical data away on holiday in the first place. Set up regular backups. Use an external storage medium such as a hard drive – or have your data automatically backed up to the Cloud by your security software.

  • Tidy up: Travel lightly. To prevent potential security holes, delete all apps that you do not use any more.

  • Privacy: Before going away, check the privacy settings on your social networks once again. Ensure that social media doesn’t let any information about your current whereabouts escape to the outside world.

Being secure on holiday

  • WiFi hotspots: More and more hotels and cafés offer free wifi for their guests and patrons. This is useful but also risky. Criminals can easily read others’ emails or even spy on critical data such as credit card details or passwords when connected to such a network. Try to avoid carrying out sensitive transactions such as online banking and shopping via public WiFi hotspots.

  • VPN: Using a virtual private network (VPN) is helpful for staying secure even when using public WLAN networks when you are away. This protects your connection as if it were passing through a tunnel. It means you can surf at airports, hotels or cafés with peace of mind.

  • Disable: Don’t give your data to cyber criminals on a silver platter. Disable the Bluetooth and WLAN functions if you don’t need them. Otherwise the radio connections make your device susceptible to attack.
  • Hotel safes: Many hotel safes are locked using your credit card. Even though this seems sensible, you are recommended not to do so. Criminals can use simple technology to steal your credit card data during the locking process. Use the PIN entry option offered as an alternative instead.

  • Internet cafés: You cannot get a clear picture of the security settings or a possible malware infection on third party computers. So don’t log into sensitive accounts from PCs in Internet cafés or hotel lobbies. If possible, surf in the browser’s private or incognito mode, where no data is stored. After the session, log out of all accounts again and delete your surfing history.

  • Software: If your smartphone or tablet should actually be lost, you can locate it using special software. This will quickly tell you whether you have simply left it in the hotel room or if a thief has stolen it. Many security solutions enable you to lock the device via a web platform. This means that your data is protected from third-party access. Inform your mobile service provider as well to prevent unnecessary costs.

  • Charging: Public USB charging stations are an especially insecure way of charging your battery. Data as well as power can be passed through the connection. Lock the device during the charging process to prevent data theft. A so-called USB condom offers additional protection that makes charging secure by only letting the charging power through and blocking the data flow.

  • Secure posting: Public holiday posts on a social network invite intruders straight into your home. Criminals use such data to create a map on which unoccupied properties are marked. So only upload your best holiday memories onto Facebook and the like after you have come back.

After the holiday

After the holiday

  • Check your credit card bill
  • Load updates
  • Change passwords
  • Delete travel documents
  • Arrange a backup
  • Check: Keep an eye on your credit/debit card and bank account statements when you get back. This will tell you if your card data has been spied on and misused. If you spot any irregularities, contact your bank.

  • Extra secure: For security reasons, change your passwords for social networks or online platforms that you have connected to from third-party computers. If someone has spied on your access data, he will no longer be able to use it.

  • Updates: During your holiday, software providers will most probably have published new updates for your virus protection solution, your operating system and other programs. Install these as soon as possible to close security holes.

  • Travel documents: Have you stored your flight tickets, your ID or booking confirmations on a USB stick or in the Cloud? Delete this sensitive data again after the holiday so it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

  • Restore: If you have disabled your WLAN before the holiday, you should enable it again and change the access password for security reasons. Also check if all the permissions you have set up are correct.

  • Backup: Organise backup copies of the data you are taking with you on holiday. This will help you keep your photos and memories for the long term.

More information and sources