YOU’RE probably taking the vacation to unwind, but it is certainly not the time to put cybersecurity on the back burner. On the contrary, being outside the familiar environment of your home or office may expose you to unforeseen threats. Which is why you would be well-advised to be doubly cyber-vigilant, or else pesky insects may be the least of your worries during your time off.
Indeed, a serious cyber-mishap can spoil the fun even beyond the duration of your vacation. So, what can you do ahead of your trip to take the sting out of a possible cyber-incident?
Consider preparing to become a bit of a “digital minimalist” for a while and leave (some of) your tech at home.
By carrying only the most necessary of devices, you not only have fewer of them to lose but, even more importantly, you’re giving cyber-criminals fewer opportunities for compromising your digital assets and personal information.
The especially wary may want to consider using a temporary or throwaway device and ensure that it contains as little in the way of private information as possible.
Whatever device(s) you take with you, check that the operating system(s) and applications are updated for security fixes, especially the software with vulnerabilities that are known to be often exploited by cybercriminals. Ideally, it helps to have this never-ending routine automated whenever possible or at least to make sure that you receive timely notifications of a pending update.
Another way of reducing your attack surface is uninstalling outdated and unused software and shutting down no-longer used accounts. Needless to say, ensure that you use reputable anti-malware software and that it is up-to-date, too.
KEEP INTRUDERS OUT
Regardless of the tech you carry, make sure its screen is protected with a first line of defence — such as a strong and unique password, passphrase, PIN code, or one of the available methods of biometric authentication such as fingerprint scanning or facial recognition. By extension, set up the device to auto-lock its screen after being idle for as short a period as you can tolerate.
That’s not all, however. The odds of data falling into the wrong hands can be greatly lessened with full-disk encryption. This is generally available for various types of devices and platforms, be it as in-built solution (although not necessarily enabled out of the box) or as third-party software.
Speaking of theft, you can also set up an anti-theft security feature that allows you to track your missing device and even wipe all its contents remotely.
BACK IT UP BEFORE YOU GO
The loss of a wealth of personal data stored on a laptop or smartphone is bound to cause much more heartache than the loss of the device as such.
Which is why the importance of having a safety net to fall back on when things do go awry with your data cannot be overstated.
With encrypted backups of your data stored in a secure offline location, you can also ultimately emerge unscathed from, say, a malware infestation, ransomware attack or, indeed, even a simple device malfunction.
MODERATION IS KEY
Moderation is (the) key … … not to your home, though. Rounding off our list is a tip that actually extends to the safety of your abode. Put simply, you may want to refrain from trumpeting all over social networking sites that you and your family will be away from home for any given number of days. The temptation to share can be hard to resist, but giving in to it may expose you to a physical intrusion into your home, which may jeopardize more than just your backups or the very devices we suggested you leave at home.
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