cyberTaking The Right Road to Security on Trips

BY ALLISON HICKMAN, TVA Enterprise Information Security & Policy

If you are planning a trip this summer, chances are you will use one or more mobile devices to stay in touch with others, obtain directions, share pictures on social media, and much more.

While convenient, remember that mobile devices offer unique opportunities to exploit you and your network of family and friends.  The types and varieties of sensitive information on today’s devices are greater than that of traditional cellphones, making them a likely target for cyber attacks.

Serious — and sometimes very personal — consequences can develop if mobile devices and/or data are compromised or stolen.  Take the following precautions to minimize potential risks and keep both your data and your devices secure while you are away:

Before You Leave

  • Identify and remove unneeded data on the devices you are taking with you.
  • Update your devices, applications, and anti-virus software so that you are running the latest versions.
  • Enable the appropriate security settings on your device.
  • Lock all mobile devices with a strong password or passcode.
  • Install or enable tracking software so it can be located and/or wiped if it is lost or stolen.

While You Are Away

  • Never leave laptops, tablets, smart phones, or other devices unattended.
  • Avoid using Automated Teller Machines in isolated places and ATMs with no camera surveillance.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and watch for shoulder surfers.  These are people who might sit or stand unnecessarily close to you in hopes of viewing your information.
  • Keep laptops and other mobile devices in backpacks instead of computer-carrying cases.
  • Keep any storage drives separate from your devices.

In Airports & Hotels

  • Carry on all devices and do not check them with your baggage when traveling by air.
  • Do not send laptops or other devices through the airport scanner until reaching the front of the line.
  • Put devices in hotel-room safes instead of leaving them in sight and unattended.  If no safe is available, use a security cable to secure laptops to a piece of furniture and take smaller devices with you.
  • Stay alert for hotel scams.  Go to the front desk to verify requests for personal information, instead of sharing it over the hotel telephone line.
  • Do not view your personal financial data on hotel or other public wi-fi networks.