Cybersecurity and Summer Travel
Top 15 Cyber Security Tips for Traveling
by Carolyn Schrader
The travel season provides numerous opportunities for hacking of your devices while your enjoy yourself
with friends and family. Savvy travelers should take some time before leaving to ensure they are well protected.
A recent story from a friend reinforced the value of this preparation before traveling. A few months ago he attended
a Homeland Security conference, staying at one of the conference’s designated hotels. Unfortunately, his iPad
picked up malware at the conference hotel or in the conference center itself. He didn’t discover the malware
infection until months later. He had frequent problems with his personal laptop at home recognizing the printer
using the home Wi-Fi connection. The help desk at the printer company was fabulous and helped diagnosis the
problem. It was determined that the malware had moved from the iPad to the home router to the printer and was
operating as a bot. Fortunately, the home network had strong passwords, antivirus software, and offsite backup. No
additional damage was detected. After 4 hours online with a cyber security specialist, the malware was removed
from various devices, patches to the printer installed and the system is clean and secure again.
Even well protected systems can catch malware. So if you are traveling this season, here are some
reminders to strengthen your cyber security measures.
Top 15 Tips for Cyber Secure Traveling
1. If you are going to be somewhere with lots of people and where everyone leaves their phones around, add
a screen saver that quickly identifies the device as yours. Reduce the chance of someone
inadvertently walking off with your phone and then it falling into the hands of someone else that tries to
2. Update your software, anti-virus and location app before you go. Better security will be on your phone
with these updates.
3. Leave it behind – don’t even take your business laptop or company-use smartphone if possible. Consider
using temporary devices if you have to work. If you are going somewhere other than to known friends or
family, consider purchasing a temporary smartphone or tablet. Use different passwords than on your
4. Encrypt sensitive data. Leave as much data off your device as you can. Temporary devices for travel-only
use make it easy to just load what you need and encrypt the data that you have to take.
5. Use your cell service instead of Wi-Fi if possible. It is generally safer than Wi-Fi connections.
6. Don’t use public Wi-Fi spots. Lots of hackers use public spots to hack into devices. Public spots include
hotels, restaurants, coffee places, airports, and stores. Don’t disclose on your device any information you
don’t want to be seen or read by an unauthorized person.
7. Don’t use hotel or other public computers. Results of several tests show that these computers
frequently have malware on them. You have no idea who used the device before you and may have added
8. Don’t leave devices in a hotel room. Take them with you or lock them in a hotel safe. If a criminal gains
access to your hotel room, he can add malware in a minute and leave the device in place.
9. Turn your Bluetooth device off when not in use. Some devices allow for automatic connection which
allows other Bluetooth devices to connect to your device without you knowing it.
10. Only charge your devices directly with a connection to an outlet. Don’t risk transferring malware from
an unknown charging station or a computer. Be sure to pack those adapters.
11. Turn off auto location and check-in applications. Don’t make it easy for criminals to easily identify
where you are.
12. Selfies and group photos can be great fun. But don’t post your pictures until you
return. Help prevent any lurking criminals from easily tracking you.
13. If you are traveling out of the country, know if that country monitors digital communications by
foreigners. What you say may be a joke in America, but may not be in another country.
14. If you are traveling out of the country, leave your ereader or other device with books and documents at
home. Download only reading material that will not be considered as pornography (even risqué romance
novels fit this definition in some countries), controversial, or political.
15. Change your passwords when you return. If someone did access your devices while you were on
vacation, reduce the potential for later damage by changing passwords.
Relax and enjoy your travel! Being cyber safe can help reduce your worries. For additional details, the Dept. of
Homeland Security has posted a Travel Tip Card. Another useful source of information is the Government of
Canada site with travel cyber tips.