Summer is here! Before you take off on your family vacation or business trip, here are simple ways to keep safe and protect your privacy while you’re on the road or in a foreign land.
1. Keep important documents at your fingertips
We’ve all been there — when dread takes hold and you realize you’ve misplaced your wallet or purse. Even worse is when you realize you are now without your passport, credit cards, health insurance card, and driver’s license.
Make copies and store them in a safe place or better yet, take pictures of your IDs and credit cards and lock them down with Keepsafe Photo Vault on iOS or Android. You’ll rest easier knowing that you’ve got backups with you in case your belongings get lost or stolen.
2. Set passcodes & encrypt
Don’t travel (or go anywhere really) without setting a passcode on your mobile phone and/or laptop and ensuring it’s encrypted. (Follow instructions for how to encrypt your devices here.) When you have a strong password and encrypted devices, thieves can’t access your materials and accounts. Even if your devices go missing, your privacy remains protected.
You can safeguard your apps with an added level of security with AppLock on Android. Set a PIN or pattern code to lock-down apps so that they can’t be broken into. Protect your email, messaging apps, social media, finance and shopping apps from being compromised.
3. Be deliberate about traveling with apps
More people are reporting having their mobile phones searched when traveling internationally and/or entering or re-entering the US. (Digital searches at the border increased by 5 times between 2015 and 2016.) Consider deleting sensitive materials (like work documents) or apps that you don’t want accessed. Most apps require an account login so you can always re-install them when you return home.
If you use a Password Manager like 1Password to keep track of your passwords, use Travel Mode. Travel Mode allows you to designate which passwords are safe to keep with you while traveling. Others get removed from your password vaults until you login and turn off Travel Mode. This is another great way to protect sensitive work accounts from being accessed or searched (admins can also manage what accounts employees have access to while traveling).
4. Use a VPN and be sure to logout
When you travel, you are more likely to use a free WiFi hotspot to get online. You may use an unsecured public network to access the Internet in an airport, hotel or cafe. VPNs, or virtual private networks, are tunnels that encrypt your browsing and Internet activity and obscure your IP so they stay private. Even if there are eavesdroppers listening in on public networds (yes, that’s possible), you can safely go about your business wherever you are. Make sure you use a legitimate VPN service that you pay for and trust to maintain your privacy.
If you’re accessing your email or other accounts using a hotel Business Center or Internet cafe, make sure you log out of any personal accounts so others don’t happen upon sensitive information and can’t impersonate you or hijack your accounts.
5. Invest in a burner phone and/or laptop
If you really want to protect private materials on your phone or laptop, consider traveling with lower-end, lower cost pre-paid devices. You can still make phone calls, get help and access the Internet, but traveling lighter means lowering the risk of having your privacy compromised if your device is lost, stolen or searched. (And by the way, there are plenty of other reasons for having burner devices beyond just travel!)
Travel safely and protect yourself when vacationing this summer. Just as you keep cash out of sight when you’re on the street and lock valuables in your hotel safe, make sure you preserve your digital life when you’re away from home. Take precautions so you can enjoy your trip and rest easy!