FBI technical tips for safe holiday travel

Employees open presents and emails during the holidays

Whether you are traveling by plane, planning a road trip or hosting guests for the holiday, it is important to practice good cyber security.

How companies can protect shoppers against cyber attacks during the holidays
DomainTools senior security researcher Kyle Wilhoit shares top tips on how to prevent phishing attacks while shopping at holidays, data breaches and other scams.

The holiday travel season is in full swing and there are many cyber security risks. With that in mind, the FBI has released a list of tips to protect travelers from cyber criminals while on the move.

In combination with the TechRepublic guide to make you a smarter traveler, these tips help you not only to become a victim of cyber criminals, but also of burglars and thieves in real life.

1. Disable the direct connection to open Wi-Fi networks

Open,
unsecured Wi-Fi networks are a security nightmare
and must be avoided at all costs. The problem is that many devices are configured by default to accept all connections from nearby unsecured Wi-Fi networks, making them open to attackers who can load malware, steal data, and more.

You can find the settings to disable automatic Wi-Fi connection or notify you when your device tries to connect to a new Wi-Fi network, in the Wi-Fi options of Android, iOS , Windows and macOS devices.

2. Check network names before you become a member

If you are in a hotel, airport lounge, restaurant or anywhere else with a secure Wi-Fi network reserved for guests, you are still not safe: an enterprising criminal with an additional Wi-Fi access point can configure a network with a similar name in the hope of misleading travelers.

SEE: 8 tips to prevent phishing, malware, scams and hacks while shopping online (TechRepublic)

Always check that the network you are connecting to is the correct name, letter by letter, and do not connect if you are not sure – especially if there are multiple networks with similar names in the vicinity.

3. If unsecured WiFi is required, never do anything sensitive about it

If you are in a situation where you absolutely must go to a Wi-Fi network and use an unsecured network, never do anything sensitive about it: do not do banking, make purchases or anything that requires you to log in to a secure account . It is a breeze for someone on that network to steal your login details.

In addition to public Wi-Fi, travelers should also avoid using public charging stations: what appears to be a USB port that only supplies power can easily steal data without your knowledge. If you need to charge a device while traveling, take a power outlet adapter and look for an empty power outlet instead.

4. Use the Wi-Fi hotspot function of your phone

Not all wireless contracts allow you to use your phone’s data connection to create a Wi-Fi hotspot, but if it’s yours, this is a great way to go online without risk. Make sure your hotspot has a complicated password and that you are the only one connected and that you are more secure than on any Wi-Fi network, secure or not.

5. Consider setting up a second WiFi home network for guests

Most modern Wi-Fi routers and modems can broadcast multiple networks, including setting up a guest network that separates your traffic from that of friends and family.

You never know if someone staying at home uses an unsecured or compromised device, so it’s always a good precaution to create a separate network.

6. Turn off location services while traveling

Broadcasting your location by posting on social media, logging in from unknown places and doing other internet things that share your location gives criminals a good indication that you are not at home. Turn off location sharing while you are away to keep your home safer.

7. Do not post photos or messages about holiday travel

It can be difficult, but avoid posting your vacation plans and sharing photos of family gatherings, at least until you get home. It’s one thing for a smart criminal to use location data to find out when you’re not at home, but it doesn’t take much effort to use public social media messages for someone to see when you’re away.

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