Protecting your devices while traveling - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Protecting your devices while traveling

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

You think about your personal safety, when taking a vacation, but do you think much of your digital safety?

So many of us travel with one or more digital devices these days, carrying smart phones and tablets and laptops, even when we travel outside of the country.

Below you will find advice from our cyber expert, Theresa Payton, on the steps you need to take to protect yourself and your devices, from picking up "stow-away's" while traveling:

7 SAFETY STEPS TO TAKE BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE HOUSE OR WORK:

1      Make a full backup of all your files before you travel.  If you are going to take a device with you, remove sensitive data from that device, if possible

2      Make sure all the devices you take with you have auto lock turned on with strong passwords.  Create different passwords that you will use for the trip and plan to change them when you get home

3      Update all operating systems, browsers, and anti virus software

4      Pare it down - do you really need a smart phone, laptop, and tablet?

5      Sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program so the State Department can better assist you in an emergency, it's free, click here.  

6      Look at country specific warnings at the following State Department site by clicking here.  

7      Enable the encryption feature on your device - call your manufacturer if you cannot find the steps to do this

PERSONAL IDENTITY & PHYSICAL SAFETY TIPS

1.  When using an ATM for cash transactions, choose the ones at banks

2.  Consider using RFID wallets and passport covers to stop close by snoops from trying to read your information

3.  Never broadcast on social media networks where you are going or checking in at locations in the moment - you not only tell people where you but you also are broadcasting an empty house

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FOREIGN TRAVEL

1.  SECURITY & PRIVACY=NONE

Do not expect security or privacy in Internet cafes, hotels, offices, or public places.   Many local networks overseas could be havens for malware - be suspicious of connecting to "free" WiFi or internet.

2.  DEVICE IN LINE OF SIGHT

Always keep your device with you instead of in the hotel room, if possible.  If not, discreetly lock it up.  Assume that all information that you transmit:  phone, internet, fax, or telephone could be intercepted.

3.  FEATURES AND DEVICES OFF IF NOT IN USE

When devices are not in use, turn them off and take the battery out to prevent GPS tracking or snoops via the microphone or camera.  Disable services such as "bluetooth" and "file sharing" so you don't accidentally broadcast your whereabouts.  Turn off the microphone and the camera feature of your phone when it is not in use.

5.  TALK ABOUT WHERE YOU WERE NOT WHERE YOU ARE

Cybercriminals watch social networks frequently looking for those US travelers that have broadcast they are away and target them for social engineering and other fraud scams.

6.  DEVICE INSPECTIONS

In some countries, if the customs official demands to examine your device, they might compromise it

7.  MAYBE A LOANER IS A BETTER BET?

Consider taking a loaner device instead of your own - there are many companies that will rent a smart phone or tablet for you.  Some international hotels will rent out a tablet or smart phone for a fee. 

RESOURCES:

Travel tips from the National Counterintelligence Executive

For tips for traveling abroad see the Department of State by clicking here.   

FBI's Crime Center (IC3) Posted a notice regarding travelers picking up malware when connecting through hotel internet connections.  Read it by clicking here

New York University highlights Step by Step Instructions to turn on encryption and other safety features for devices.  Read it by clicking here.   

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