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Beef up your security and avoid being a victim on vacation this summer

Grant Hatchimonji | July 9, 2014
It's summer, so chances are good that you're planning on taking a trip sometime in the next couple of months. While the prospect is exciting, it can also be daunting for those who aren't sufficiently prepared to protect themselves and their assets while they're traveling.

Jones adds, "Your phone is now just as important, if not moreso, than your wallet. Phones are opening cars, storing cards, and controlling home automation systems for your security. You can't just leave it lying around, like I've seen people do on a daily basis."

Jones goes on to tell a story about one victim that he was familiar with who had their phone stolen, but the thief was clever enough to disable the cellular network and keep it off Wi-Fi at all times. This effectively crippled the victim's ability to remotely wipe all of the important and sensitive data that was kept on the phone (and that it had access to).

"Phones are easy enough to get replaced, but not the easiest thing to track down, remotely wipe, and make sure it isn't used against you," he says. "So if you do lose your phone, and you're sure it's gone, you need to take those steps to make sure you wipe it quick."

On the road

Common sense prevails when considering security and safety while choosing vacation destinations. Going to certain areas, as far as the experts are concerned, is just asking for trouble.

"It's no secret that if you're going to somewhere in the Baltic states -- or even Brazil with the World Cup right now -- you're going to be a bigger target," says Irvine. "During the [Winter] Olympics in Russia, there was a statistic that said that people using a publicly accessible network would be hacked in something like 10 seconds."

He went on to say that, aside from specific geographical locations, there are also certain types of areas that should be avoided if possible, at least in terms of establishing an internet connection there. Open areas like coffee shops, airports, and train stations are all high risk areas. People also need to be cautious of automatically connecting to public networks; Irvine says that attackers have taken to setting up their own Wi-Fi networks and naming them after the location (e.g. the name of a local coffee shop), thereby giving them access to your machine when it connects.

Regardless of where you choose to go, at least make sure that you know the area well. When it comes to protecting your possessions, Jones says that awareness and knowledge of your surroundings are key.

"People lose their phones and get their pockets picked when they're in areas they don't know and they don't think about it and they're relaxed," he says. "People often don't pay attention to their surroundings or what part of the neighborhood they're in."

Part of the reason awareness is important is because you're less likely to draw attention to yourself as a tourist. Attackers can single you out as an easy target if it's immediately apparent that you're from out of town.


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