Digital security tips for travellers

Travelling is an amazing opportunity to relax and explore. But while you’re traipsing around the world, beware these cyber-crooks who may take advantage of your carefree attitude.

A recent survey found that tourists are three times more likely to be affected by cybercrime than physical crime while they’re abroad. So, to help you stay protected, here are five tips, courtesy of Kaspersky Lab, that will make you less of a target for cybercriminals when you travel.

1. Take an extra debit card
Your regular credit or debit card may be a standard fixture when you’re at home, but when you’re abroad it’s best to take a separate debit card with a low balance and use that instead of your normal card. That way, should you fall victim to a scam or credit card skimmer, you’ll lose a lot less than the entire contents of your bank account.

It’s also recommended that you take a small amount of local currency, so you don’t have to pay with your card as often.

2. Use a VPN whenever possible
You may be comfortable using public wifi in Australia, but we’re lucky in that we do have a smaller population and are therefore less likely to attract such a high amount of attention from cybercriminals. When travelling, try using a virtual private network (VPN) when you browse, particularly if you use the internet for transferring funds or sending personal information. That way, your communications will be encrypted and safe from prying eyes.

3. Exercise caution when using public computers
It’s probably best to never use public computers, such as those found in internet cafés and hotels, but if you have to, be very careful. Ensure that you completely log out of browsers, search the web ‘incognito’ where possible, empty the cache and clear the browser history, then check that you’ve left no digital footprint before you walk away from that computer.

Another reason to steer clear of public computers is that they are breeding grounds for infection, and not just the kind of infection that requires washing your hands after use. Public computers are ripe for cybercriminals to plant malware and computer viruses which they can then access and use to steal your private information for their own nefarious ends.

4. Protect your devices with passwords and backup before you leave
When travelling, it’s not uncommon to lose your smartphone, tablet or laptop or to have it stolen. So before you leave, back up all of your devices, and ensure that they are password protected and trackable by software such as Find My iPhone. It’s also recommended to have an anti-theft app installed on your devices, so if it does go missing you can remotely wipe all of your data.

5. Keep it to yourself
Many people love to share their every move social media while they’re on holiday, but sometimes you can unwittingly share too much. It’s called overshare, and you don’t have to be overseas to do it. Clever crims can use this information to figure out the answers to your security questions and use that information to empty your bank accounts, make purchases under your name or even to break into your home while you’re away.

By following these security tips, you’re going one step further to ensuring your digital safety by minimising the chance of being an easy target for cybercriminals.

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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