A Safe Travel Cyber Checklist for the Summer Travel Season
In recent years personal cyber security has increasingly been at the forefront of all our minds. With many of our clients preparing to enjoy an end of year break, we’ve pulled together a checklist of Do’s and Don’ts that we believe will help you to protect your personal information.
- Don't discuss travel plans on social media.
Sharing can backfire if cybercriminals find out when you are away and burgle your home. Avoid posting travel dates or itineraries, and warn your children not to share their own or their parents’ travel plans — and never reveal when no one is home.
- Be wary of public Wi-Fi.
Always use secure connections when going online in public places. If you have to use an unsecured connection, never to check bank balances, login to credit card or other accounts, or share important personal information. This information can easily be stolen over an unsecure network. Also, turn off Bluetooth and other connectivity features when in a public area, as these features can be just as vulnerable as Wi-Fi.
- Be careful getting cash and making payments.
Be cautious of where you make payments or get cash, since these are the key access points for identity theft among cybercriminals. Using ATMs at a bank branch is safer than using standalone ATMs, and using a credit card for merchandise purchases is safer than using a debit card, which provides direct access to a bank account. Clients should also check that their liability policy or travel insurance has identity theft coverage.
- Consider using your mobile phone as your credit card.
You may have seen more and more people paying with a smartphone for ‘Tap & Go’ payments. It is acknowledged that these payments are safer than using a credit card, as the smartphone transactions use random 15 to 16 digit token numbers rather than actual card information, and if the token numbers are stolen they are useless. So consider activating the ‘Tap & Go’ option on your smartphone through your banks mobile app. Even greater security may be afforded by locking the phone and/or the banking app with a fingerprint.
- Turn off home computers.
Many clients leave their computers on as a matter of habit, but always-on computers are more susceptible to hacking.
- Back up all data.
Regular back ups are essential. Storing all sensitive files in a secure facility on the cloud is a sound practice, as is backing up data onto a removable storage device that can be kept in a home safe or at a different location such as the office or house of another family member.
- Change passwords.
If you are taking a smartphone on an overseas trip, consider changing your password to something long and difficult to hack. Turn on the lock-screen passcode or fingerprint, that way, if the phone is lost or stolen, little information can be accessed.
- Register for the Smart Traveller program.
The Federal Government Smart Traveller service at www.smarttraveller.gov.au is a free service that allows you to enrol your overseas trip with the nearest Australian embassy. Enrolment enables embassies to reach travellers in an emergency, as well as help family and friends contact the travellers.
Protect the Home whilst away
If you are away from a prolonged period of time you should take the following steps to protect your home from cybercriminals:
- Alert the home alarm provider, if applicable, so they will know the house is vacant;
- Ask your alarm company if they offer an encryption tool for their home security system to make it less vulnerable to hackers;
- Consider installing security cameras;
- Disconnect the garage door opener and lock it manually to protect from criminals who can crack the electronic code;
- Unplug any devices or appliances connected to the internet;
- Advise the bank that you will be away/overseas so they are aware that transactions may take place in places/countries that are not the norm for the account.
While our team are not security experts, we have prepared a more detailed personal identity protection checklist that considers both preventative measures you can take plus how to react if you find yourself victim of cyber fraud. If you’d like to evaluate your current situation against our checklist at your next review meeting, please contact your adviser team.