man uses laptop remotely at the beach

4 tips for staying secure this summer

Author:  Ron Allen

Excited to go on your trip this summer?  Good.  Wondering how to keep you and your information safe?  Didn’t think so.  Here are a few tips to keep you and your information safe, both in the virtual and physical world.

  • Social Media: You’re all excited and ready to go on your big trip – do you post it on social media? Not yet – when you start your trip out with a social media post, you essentially just announced you are not at home, and people lurking in the recesses of social media may try to take advantage of that. Instead, post about the trip after you get home, and relate your excitement and experiences so you can relive and reflect on your travels.
  • Traveling: So you’re at your hotel, or walking about the city as you spot an internet café and decide that you want to check email. In short, those computers may very well have some sort of keylogger (device or software that captures every keystroke). That bank balance you just checked online – well, when you entered your id and password, the keylogger just captured those and now the bad guy/girl can use those credentials, change your address, transfer your money, and generally do a lot of damage.  Instead, wait – this is a vacation, and most emails are not that important.
  • Returning Home: You pull up to your front door, and notice that there is a pile of newspapers on the front lawn and the garbage cans are still on the street even though garbage day was 4 days ago. Oh wait – you didn’t stop delivery or ask your neighbor to look after those things. That also advertises that you are not home.  Instead, talk to you neighbors and have them take care of those things and feed your pets.
  • Catching up: You’re try to settle back into your real world after the trip. You get an email from someone you might deal with (identified by the keylogger) letting you know they are investigating some fraudulent transactions from where you just had your trip (from your social media posts) and give you a link to check status. Do you click on it?  NO!  This is yet another scenario called phishing where people are trying to trick you into exposing your information. Instead, go to the site being impersonated and check for yourself. Look at the image here – if the email really is coming from the identified sender, Google in this case, then shouldn’t the link be to a Google domain, and not to some site you’ve never hear of in Italy as this email shows.

Identity theft is an all too common scenario that people have to deal with daily.  All of the venues above give a window of opportunity to people that want to take advantage of you. One breach can have lasting repercussions to your reputation, credit rating, and just your trust in mankind.  So, when you go on your trip, do you need to be paranoid about everything you do?  Well, no – just be aware of what you are giving out, what you’re doing.

  • No, you did not just win an internet lottery of randomly selected emails.
  • No, that person/company is not going to just give out a million dollars to the first 50 people that like and share their post.
  • No, some prince in a far-away country does not need your help to transfer their millions.

These, and more, are all just ways to extract your information, so just think critically about what you are doing, and develop a nice filter for the noise we are bombarded with every day.