Prevent Identity Theft on Vacation
How Do I Prevent Stolen Identity While Traveling?
Identity theft and information theft are scary, costly scenarios – and they are much worse if you are traveling or on vacation. You are away from your usual resources, you may not speak the local language, and the last thing you want on vacation is to feel like the stress of identity theft. Prevent identity theft while traveling for both international travel and domestic travel.
If you are a cybersecurity professional traveling for vacation or for business, follow these special travel considerations. If you hold a security clearance, you will likely be required to send your travel plans to your security office for acknowledgement and approval. The security office may provide a list of travel precautions. There are many common-sense precautions; however, for those that want some extra security while on vacation, here are several more. Be a smart traveler and follow this travel safety checklist. Additional precautions may seem excessive, but remember the wise words of Saab’s CEO Robbie Sinclair: “Security is always excessive until it’s not enough.”
Many browsers also have settings which allow for saved passwords, sometimes referred to as keychains. These include Google Chrome password manager and Apple Keychain password manager.
Smart Traveler Phone Settings
- Lock down the devices. Enable the devices to only open with fingerprint, facial recognition, or PIN. Change the PIN right before you leave, especially if you use the same PIN on multiple devices.
- Set the display to automatically lock after the minimum amount of inactivity, usually 5 minutes.
- Disable screen lock notifications.
- Turn off GPS services, unless actively using them.
- Minimize the use of Bluetooth. Disable Bluetooth auto connect.
General Travel Security Precautions for Mobile Devices and Smartphones
- Update all software to the most recent updates and patches prior to travel.
- Do not charge the device at charging stations. Use only the cord you purchased and wall current.
- Do not open any unknown e-mail attachments.
- Do not sign in to the Wi-Fi network. If you must use public Wi-Fi, implement VPN to protect your messages.
- Never lose physical contact with your devices. Travel with your laptop on the plane instead of in checked luggage.
Severe Travel Security Precautions for Mobile Devices and Smartphones
- Replace the SIM card. Chose one for your travel location. This also assures that all the information you have on your phone is not lost.
- Change all passwords to accounts you may log into while traveling.
- Store mobile devices in RFID enclosures when not in use.
- Do not log into financial portals. Pay all your bills before you leave.
- Do not log into business or usual personal e-mail accounts (after all, you are on vacation.) Try to stay off line.
- Enable Find My Device (Android devices) to track your device if stolen and erase all passwords.
Operational Security for Social Media and Money
- Do not announce that you are not home on social media, your voicemail, or e-mail. Post your social media pictures after you return home.
- Purchase an RFID waist or neck wallet and use it to store your passport, credit cards, money, mobile devices.
- Obtain a VISA card that does not charge international transaction fees.
- Create a travel e-mail address account, and limit the contact list to key people. When you finish the trip, change the password. This is the only account that should be on the mobile device with the new SIM card.
- Assure that the hotel Wi-Fi network is correct. Hackers often change the legitimate name by a letter. When possible, use a VPN.
- Leave all your personal “wallet information” at home, such as your library card, gym memberships, and other credit cards.
- Carry your medical insurance cards.
- Carry a minimal amount of foreign currency, and only exchange or purchase currency at banks.
- Exchange your money before you leave.