by Gary Hawkins, August 11, 2018
Most of us love to have one or more of our smart devices (phones, tablets, and laptops) with us when traveling. Maintaining adequate physical and digital security of these devices, the services we access, and the data stored on them is important to us all. This article presents a number of easy to implement strategies that will help you keep your devices and your data secure while on the road.
The first item to consider is physical security. Most people have experienced losing a device either accidentally, or because it was stolen. From bitter experience, I can tell you this is an extremely frustrating experience. Keep your devices with you if at all possible, if you can't do that then ensure they are stored in a safe and secure location. Absolutely, avoid having all your devices unattended in one place - this is a recipe for disaster.
To ensure the security of your data on a device if it falls into the hands of a stranger:
- Use a Personal Identification Number (PIN) or password to log into and gain access to your device.
- If available, enable multi-factor authentication or biometrics like fingerprint sign-on or retina/facial recognition to access your device. For example, my Asus laptop is capable of fingerprint recognition and I have this operating.
- Use strong and unique passwords for each of the accounts and online services you access.
- Ensure that your critical data is backed up so you can recover it in the event your device is lost.
In addition to these steps, you should also:
- Enable two-factor authentication on the website services and mobile apps you use. In addition to asking for a login ID and password, the web service will also request a second item of information, which is typically a verification code sent via text message to a phone, or via email. Text verification may be challenging if you're located in a remote area with poor or no coverage.
- Make sure your mobile numbers and email addresses are up to date with your financial services providers. Review and respond to security and fraud alerts promptly.
- Allow push alerts to mobile apps for more secure communication about your accounts. Remember, email can be intercepted.
- Review your credit report frequently and carefully through AnnualCreditReport.com. By staggering the request of a free annual copy of your credit report from each of the major agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) you can monitor your status every four months.
- Carry only necessary identification with you; do not under any circumstances carry your Social Security card. Memorize this number.
- Equip your computer with comprehensive malware and virus protection software.
- Only download software or applications from well-known or trusted sources.
- Download and install Operating System and software updates (sometimes called patches or service packs) promptly.
- Avoid clicking on links from unknown sources found within text messages, on web pages, and in suspicious emails.
In the book, A Life Redesigned, I'll look in greater detail at these and other techniques for ensuring your ongoing digital security while traveling.
Travel safe, my fellow digital nomads.
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