Vacation Time? Keep Cyber Safety in Focus for Stressless Travel

By Plumas Bank June 30, 2023 Cybersecurity

Most summer travelers have the same routine items on their list of “must-not-forgets”: sunscreen, a light jacket, a book you’ll likely never read but are bringing just in case.

But here’s something you probably need help remembering while you’re making those final travel preparations: Before your upcoming vacation is the perfect time to run through your safe cyber-hygiene plan, ensuring all of your electronic devices are secure and ready for your journey. 

Sherina Kreul, Plumas Bank Business Advisor, Tahoe City, CA

“As your community bank, it’s our duty to remind you that summer travel season is also a popular time for bad actors to try to take advantage of your vulnerabilities,” said Sherina Kreul, Vice President and Business Advisor/ Branch Manager at Plumas Bank’s Tahoe City branch. “So it’s important to take steps before and during travel that lock down these hacker opportunities. This should be a time of relaxation, but you also need to be vigilant regarding cybersafety.” 

With this in mind, the National Cybersecurity Alliance has some overarching recommendations before you depart on your well-earned vacation. 

Cybersecurity Tips Before You Go 

  1. Travel lightly: Only take the number of devices you absolutely need on your trip. Don’t take your laptop, for example, if you can accomplish the same tasks with your iPad — or vice versa.
  2. Check your privacy and security settings: Review both web services and apps. You might want to turn off some features, like location tracking, while you’re traveling.
  3. Ensure “find my phone” is active: Not only will this feature allow you to remotely locate your phone, but it also gives you the power to remotely wipe data or disable the device if it gets into the wrong hands.
  4. Password protect your devices: This may be the most important time to ensure you have a PIN, passcode or biometric security feature (like a fingerprint or facial scan) so your phone will remain locked if it’s misplaced or stolen.
  5. Update your software: Ensure all the security features and software is up to date on your devices.
  6. Back up files: If you don’t do so regularly, now’s the time to create back-ups of photos, documents or other files to the cloud or an external drive.

OK, so your bags are packed, and you’re ready for departure. Unfortunately, cyber-vigilance doesn’t end the moment you board a plane, cruise ship or hit the road for adventure. In fact, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has developed the “Stop. Think. Connect.” campaign, a part of which is dedicated to educating travelers about the precautions to take during their vacation.

Cybersecurity Reminders While You Are on Vacation

  1. Disable auto-connecting to Wi-Fi networks and Bluetooth: The default while you’re home may be to automatically seek and connect to available networks and devices. Disable these features so that you only connect to trusted technology.
  2. Think before you connect: Public wireless networks aren’t always safe; in fact, your mobile network connection is generally more secure than a network you know nothing about. Regardless, avoid conducting sensitive activities, such as online shopping or banking, using public Wi-Fi. Only use sites that begin with “https://” when online shopping or banking.
  3. Guard your mobile devices: Thieves often target travelers. Pay close attention to the location of your mobile devices while vacationing, including any USB or external storage devices. Keep your devices secured in taxis, at airports, on airplanes, and in your hotel room. Consider anti-theft accessories like phone tethers for optimal safety.
  4. Avoid public computers when possible: You may decide to use a hotel business center to print a boarding pass, but avoid banking and financial transactions on these computers — remember, they’re accessible to anyone (including bad actors trying to steal your information). Also consider that cyber criminals may have infected these machines with malicious viruses or installed malicious software.

“One final recommendation: Think twice before sharing your awesome vacation pics to social media during your vacation,” Kreul recommends. “Those same pictures will be just as special if you post them when you return. Announcing you’re on vacation alerts everyone who can see your posts that you’re not at home.” 

Additional Helpful Cybersafety Links

Looking for more resources? The National Cybersecurity Alliance recommends the following: 

And if you’re looking for more information about how to keep your finances safe and secure, contact your personal banker at Plumas Bank. 

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