I have to be honest that today I had sort of a hard time trying to figure what to write for today’s blog.  I know I have been getting hard and heavy with the COVID19 stuff, so I thought I would take a break from that. 

We are in midst of summer, and despite the pandemic, people still want to be traveling do different places and want to do different things.  I guess people are just tired of being stuck at home, having to wear face masks, like I am.

But even as you start driving or even flying to your favorite summer getaway, you still have to keep security in the forefront of your mind at all times, given the plethora of threat variants that we are facing today. 

In today’s times, you constantly have to be watching your back, and even CYA (you get my point).  But it’s not just the digital world that you have to keep your eyes on, it is also the physical world.

So, here are some tips, to help you stay safe so that you can enjoy that well-earned vacation, wherever it may be.

*Take care of your physical security:

This is particularly true if you own or even rent a home.  There are some very points to consider, such as making sure that your burglar alarm is on, and that you notify a very trusted friend or friends of your whereabouts and how to contact you in case of an emergency.  If possible, even give them a set of keys to go inside your house from time to time to make sure that all seems to be well. But most importantly, make sure that they check the mail on a daily basis, especially if you have an unsecured mailbox.  Remember, accessing mail, no matter how trivial it might be, are ways that a Cyberattacker can build up your profile from which they can launch Identity Theft attacks against you.  Of course, the best thing to do in this regard is to simply put a hard stop on your mail, and let it collect at your local post office until you come back and are ready to pick it up.  Physical security even extends to your Smartphone.  Unless you have an essential business or are even an employee of one, leave all of those devices behind you.  Just take one wireless device you, and make sure that you can issue a “Remote Wipe” in case it gets lost or even stolen.  Also, keep a very careful eye on pick pocketers wherever you travel to.  Keep checking that you have your wallet with you, and also keep checking that you have your credit cards in them as well.  Also, if you decide to rent a car, make sure that you have picked up everything that you left in it before you return it.  But most especially, make sure that you have all eliminated all digital traces of yourself, especially if you make use of the car’s entertainment system.

*Never, ever use Public Wi-Fi:

Yes, whenever you out to Starbuck’s or Panera Bread when you travel, there is always a very strong tendency to use their Wi-Fi___33 systems to log into your device to see what is happening to you, from both a personal and professional perspective.  But guess, what???  Public Wi-Fi hotspots are one of the most insecure places in which to get an Internet hook up.  Nothing about them is encrypted, and all they require is an extremely generic password that is sent in plaintext.  Also, the data packets are very easy to capture, and any Cyberattacker can intercept and reconstruct them again via a simple network sniffer.  Your best line of defense here?  Just don’t use the Public Wi-Fi.  You can pretty much access whatever you need straight from your Smartphone, but in a worst-case scenario, if you have to use the Public Wi-Fi, then always make sure you get a VPN software package from an ISP.  They are very affordable these days, but make sure that you get one that has a solid brand reputation.

*Be very cautious at rest stops and gas stations:

After a long drive, of course you need to take a break and stretch the legs out.  Nowadays, many of these places offer free charge up services for your Smartphone, but don’t use them!!!  There is a new threat variant out there called “Juice jacking”.  If you have to charge your phone, always use your own cable, and try as much as possible to keep it charged in your car.  Also, be careful of when using your credit card to pay for gas.  Never use the self-serve ones at the pumps, because these could be very well credit card skimmers.  Your best bet here is to simply go inside, tell the cashier how much gas you want to buy, and pay it at the register.  The advantage here is that at least you will be making use the chip technology in your card, which is used to create a secure transaction.

*Try to use a Password Manager:

Despite the recommendations of not doing so, if in the end you do decide to take your laptop with you, make sure that you use a Password Manager to protect all of your passwords.  Remember, passwords are still one of the most favored treasure troves of the Cyberattacker, so your guard has to always be up in this regard, no matter wherever you are at.  The nice about using a Password Manager is that it can remember all those passwords that you use, but it can also create those long and complex ones as well, which are impossible to remember.  Heck, it will even reset your password automatically even when it detects the slightest hint of any abnormal activity that may be going on with it.  But there is one major caveat behind using the Password Manager. You have to use a password in order to log into it, so make sure that you keep that safe as well.

*Double check all of your location settings in your wireless device:

Given the recent advancements in mobile app technology,  many of them could have their geolocation device tracking on.  Obviously, you don’t want this to be off as much as possible, just so nobody knows where you are at.  Instead, just keep the general location finder feature on in your Smartphone, so that you can use it in conjunction with your GPS system, and for emergency purposes in case you get stranded somewhere.  Also, be very careful not to use or post anything on Social Media sites until you get back home. Again, you simply do not want to broadcast to the entire world where you or your family are at.

My Thoughts On This

It’s truly unfortunate that we have to be so security vigilant in today’s world, but that is what we have to deal with today.  Of course, this is not an all-inclusive list, so your best bet would be to start a security checklist of sorts about a week or so before you embark on your trip. 

Make sure to write these down and check off each item as you go through them. Also, it would be wise to have a close friend look at this with you as well, just to make sure you are not missing anything important out.

Remember, we are all at risk in becoming a victim of a Cyberattack or hack, but the key is being proactive to help mitigate that risk as much as possible.  Creating that checklist and keeping your security at the forefront of your mind is one of the best places to get started in this regard.  And, if you ever feel that your stuff has been compromised, always first notify your financial institutions and credit card companies so that they can keep a close watch on any fraudulent activity that may occur.

But don’t let the fear of being safe and secure get in your way of enjoying your vacation or trip.  If possible, try to stay unconnected all together, and spend that time enjoying your family and friends, and the great outdoors of the United States of America!!!