Over the next couple of few weeks, many of us will find ourselves doing a lot of traveling to visit with family and friends to celebrate the holidays. However, while our mobile devices offer us a wide variety of conveniences they also pose potential threats and vulnerabilities which is why being mindful of our cybersecurity while traveling is not only important, it’s necessary. Whether we’re just trying to pass the time, plan travel arrangements, or finish up some last-minute holiday shopping, some of our favorite year-end festivities offer opportunities for security breaches that could compromise your confidential information.
Holiday Cybersecurity Tips for Mobile Devices
The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) encourages all mobile phone users to review cybersecurity protocols for electronic devices, but we know many people don’t have time to read through all of them so here are a few tips and security practices you can use to help you stay safe and protect all of your information throughout the holidays.
Know the Risks
The first step in preventing cybersecurity threats is being aware of the risks. Whether you’re using a smartphone, tablet, or any type of mobile device, it is susceptible to inherent risk when shopping, banking, or sharing any personal information online. Any change in user behavior carries constant risk in cybersecurity such as the theft of personal or bank accounts, hijacking of mobile devices through malware, and loss of critical information.
Do Not Use Public Wi-Fi Networks
We all know how convenient Wi-Fi connectivity is when traveling, especially in places such as airports, coffee shops, and other public locations. However, despite the amount of convenience they provide, they also come with their fair share of opportunity for attackers to intercept sensitive information that you typically provide during online transactions.
If you plan on conducting personal business, banking, or shopping online, try your best to avoid using open wi-fi networks. If you absolutely must check your bank account balance or make an online transaction while you’re on the road, consider turning off your mobile device’s wi-fi connection and using your cellular data instead. We know it may not offer the quickest connection in remote locations, but it is much safer than making a transaction over an insecure wi-fi network.
Only Use Bluetooth When You Need It
While Bluetooth can often times be helpful, it also can offer an opportunity for cybercriminals to pair with your phone’s open connection when you are not using it to steal personal information. Whether you’re using an wireless headphones for hands-free talking or external keyboards for easy typing, be sure to turn off the Bluetooth setting on your phone when these devices are not in use.
Be Cautious When Charging
If possible, avoid connecting your mobile device to any computer or charging station that you don’t own or control. While charging stations are convenient, such as the ones seen at an airport terminal or library, they also allow software to operate and interact with mobile devices in ways that a user may not anticipate or prefer. As a result, phishing scams that appear to be legitimate might install malware and gain access to your sensitive data.
Use Strong Passwords
Lastly, if your mobile device allows you to protect your information with passwords, be sure to use passwords that will be difficult for thieves to guess and use different passwords for different applications and devices. We know it may be difficult to remember them all, but it is much safer than a cybercriminal taking a lucky guess and getting all of your personal information in return. If you are worried about remembering your passwords, there are many secure password management applications out there that you can download.
At TED Systems we specialize in protecting sensitive information and data in commercial settings but also want individuals to know how to keep their information safe and secure. If you feel that your building or business needs to improve its security systems, contact us for more information.