Protecting your mobile devices while traveling

Nowadays, with our mobile society, almost everyone moves around a lot and when they do, they bring their mobile devices with them.  We all know (or should know) that we should keep close watch on our wallet or purse and not to flash large amounts of cash or expensive jewelry whenever we travel. This same caution also should apply to keeping up with mobile devices and to protecting the data that they contain. However, it seems as if some people leave their common sense at home regarding safeguarding their mobile devices when on the road.

Based on recommendations from Open Port IT Community, Solera Networks Threat Research Labs and Security News Daily, here are several security tips for Non-Techies to keep their devices and data safe while on the road:

• Back up everything before you leave town and leave the backup in your house, office or other secure location. The backup should include the entire laptop hard drive and everything on your phone (the whole SD card)

• Don’t let your devices out of your sight. This sounds like it would be common sense but you would be surprised at what I have seen folks leave unattended in public places.  Unless there’s a solid, trustworthy, well-secured safe in your hotel room, it’s best to keep your gadgets, including your laptop (when possible), with you at all times. That means not locking it in the trunk of the rental car and definitely not leaving it out in the open in the hotel room, even if it’s locked to the desk. Leaving an expensive device visible in a parked car, on a restaurant table or in a hotel room unattended is just asking for trouble

• Be sure to have robust anti-virus running on the system. Download and install all available updates to your anti-virus program as well as all other software updates before you leave home.  From time to time, there have been reports of bogus “update” notifications that appear to be very legit. If you update before you leave, you will be protected from the latest malware and you will also know that any update request is probably bogus.

• Lock your device.  Enable screen passwords.  It may be an annoyance to you, but it is very problematic to someone who is trying to steal your information.  If they can’t do it quickly they will move on to an easier target. Don’t make yourself an easy victim.

• Try to avoid using a cybercafé or shared hotel computers except for very basic, low risk tasks.  While they offer a measure of convenience, you have to treat any cybercafé computer as if it is a cesspool of malware. ( it usually is)  Absolutely never log into any kind of financial website from a cybercafé or hotel business center.  After logging into a social media or email account from a public computer, you should change your passwords as soon as you get home.

I think that the general lack of security knowledge by the average consumer is one of the reasons for the success of malware. The above are just a few simple Non-Techie tips for protecting yourself on the road. The bottom line is that you need to be more knowledgeable about all the “bad juice” out there.  Dig a little deeper, talk to your IT folks and be proactive in protecting your devices and the data they contain.

Happy trails !

Steve Durham

Sr. Account Manager, FSIoffice

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