Criminals don't take summer holidays!
Cyber ​​security and data protection even on vacation

Summer holidays! Now it’s time to go on holiday or to the lake, enjoy the sun, and just switch off. In principle, yes – but you should never forget about security and be prepared for certain tricks used by criminals. So continue to be on your guard – the following tips can help you.

Nobody wants to think about crime and theft during the summer holidays. While you enjoy your break from everyday life, travel, and spend time with family and friends, attackers don’t take a break – not even cybercriminals. Here are five simple tips for a safe summer holiday.

Tip 1: Use mobile data plans or secure WiFi

In a recent survey, 82 percent of respondents said they connect to any free public WiFi available when they’re out and about. Additionally, 71 percent said they’re “not at all worried” about the security risk involved. When you’re away from home, mobile data charges can be high – so public WiFi may seem tempting. But it’s precisely this high number of new victims with little knowledge about security that hackers also enjoy.

The risks include:

  • Man-in-the-middle attacks: A hacker stands between you and the WiFi network and impersonates the network to gain access to your data. This happens because of unsecured connections, and all open WiFi networks are unencrypted.
  • Rogue Access Points: These can be installed by attackers on the network and impersonate real websites to trick users into revealing their login credentials. These simulated APs are difficult to detect.
  • Malware injection: If someone with malicious intent uses the same public WiFi as you, they can remotely spread malware or other viruses to your device. These can be ads, Trojans, worms, or even ransomware.

Practical tips for internet security abroad:

  • Use a VPN: Only 1 percent of people secure their use of public Wi-Fi by using a VPN. Avoid connecting to public Wi-Fi if possible. If you have no other choice, a VPN can help secure your connection. If you’re not sure which VPN software to use, contact security experts and ask what software they’ve reviewed and would recommend.
  • Choose websites carefully: If you must use a public WiFi connection, never log into password-protected websites that ask for or contain sensitive information. Examples include your internet banking or social networking pages, or even your emails. Only use your credit card with well-known brands and never on a website that does not have HTTPS encryption.

Tip 2: Use security tools or apps for the family

Let’s face it – vacationing with kids can be stressful. Whether it’s babies and toddlers you can’t keep an eye on, or teenagers exploring a new place on their own, it can be hard to relax when you’re worrying about your kids.

There are various tools that can help you keep an eye on your children’s whereabouts and well-being. However, you should always remember that these features and applications should only be used with your children’s consent. Together you can create an action plan in case the children get lost or get into trouble, or you can talk in detail about safety on the Internet and during leisure time.

  • Mobile apps: There are special tracking apps for Android or iOS that allow you to safely track your children’s location via GPS. Both Apple and Android offer parental controls and security features for families that can also be used to track online activities.
  • Wearables: Are you worried about your younger children? Then a small GPS tracker that can be attached to belt loops, shoelaces or a backpack might be a good idea.
  • A special tracking watch that does not require a SIM card is also suitable. As long as your child is wearing this watch, you can track their location in real time or be notified when your child leaves a certain area.

Tip 3: Protect yourself from thieves

More cell phones are lost in July than any other month, as summer is a popular time for thieves. They’re usually not after your vacation snaps. Travelers’ cell phones contain boarding passes, travel documents, reservations, maps and much more. With so many employees using their cell phones for work these days, there’s also the risk of sensitive company data falling into the wrong hands.

You can protect yourself with the following simple but effective measures:

  • Screen lock: Do you use the screen lock on your mobile devices? The best method is to use a 6-digit PIN or a biometric sensor. If you choose a swipe lock, choose a random lock – for example, not a letter. 77 percent of users start their swipe pattern in one of the corners, with 44 percent choosing the top left corner.
  • Backup: Back up your data! With Google Drive or Apple’s iCloud, you can back up everything – from your camera photos to your documentation.
  • Printed copies: Make sure your travel documents are not only stored digitally and locally on your device. Keep them securely in the cloud and a printed copy in a safe place – preferably in the hotel safe.

Tip 4: Be careful what you talk about – on the phone and on social media

Even on vacation, people use their cell phones to make last-minute work calls or to talk to family about their planned trip. In public places, on trains or at the airport, you should be particularly careful about what you talk about so that important information cannot be overheard.

Once we’ve arrived at our holiday home, we naturally want to share our holiday photos and news with our friends and family. But be careful when it comes to social media reporting. Burglars can easily find out if your house is empty.

  • Friends only: Limit the visibility of your social media accounts, even if it’s just for the duration of your trip. Twitter, for example, lets you limit your tweets to “Followers,” while Facebook lets you change the permissions to “Friends.” “Public” or even “Friends of Friends” is not a recommended setting.
  • Think about what you publish: “Holiday time!” says much less to a burglar than “Off to Spain, I’ll be back in 2 weeks!”.

Tip 5: Use only official websites

When we finalize our travel plans, we expect to receive confirmations and updates via email from airlines and hotel representatives. Hackers know this and create phishing emails posing as our hotel representative and asking us to complete a reservation or reset our password. In the rush before a vacation, it’s easy to fall for such emails. Phishing emails often target accounts like credit cards and frequent flyer logins, where valuable financial information can be obtained.

When you’re traveling, every phishing email seems to fit the holiday theme. An email about a flight delay has a higher chance of catching our attention – even if it’s from the wrong airline. Official messages about your bank account, your travel itinerary, or even those with poor English and grammar, because they’re sent from a vacation spot, have a higher chance of getting past your defenses. If you receive a suspicious email, you can report it to the relevant provider. The providers have forms or special reporting facilities for this purpose.

Two tips to avoid falling for false travel advice:

  • Use provided apps: Most airlines and often hotels have their app that will notify you of changes and updates. Install it so you don’t have to rely on emails.
  • Don’t click! Instead of clicking on a notification in an email, take a step back. Exit the email, go to your browser, and enter the URL of the official website. Then search directly for the action you want to take. It’s an extra step, but it significantly reduces the risk.

Don’t let criminals and cyber threats ruin your well-earned free time. Be careful with your data even when you’re on vacation and think twice before disclosing information.


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