Advice July

Tips for a Cyber-Safe Summer

Summer is here and for many families that means a long summer retreat or several long weekends are in the works. Many families today prioritize packing phone, tablet and laptop chargers for phones, tablets and laptops are as essential as toothbrushes and wallets. However, going wireless on vacation does require some planning before loading the car or boarding the plane.   Here are a few tips to make sure gadgets problems aren’t the focal point of vacation:

• Resist telling everybody where you are and what you do. Remember to put your lights on a timer and ask your neighbor to pick up your paper but use caution when it comes to updating your online profile. Save the status updates, tweets, and picture posting for after you’ve returned.  According to an article in Time Magazine, it’s estimated that 78 percent of burglars now use social media to choose the location of their next break-in.  Blog while you are on vacation and publish when you return. 
• Password protect and encrypt your family’s mobile devices (smartphones, tablets, laptops). In case someone steals or finds your device, make it tough to obtain your stored information. For parents or teens, if any financial sites have been visited on a smartphone or computer, password-protecting your device can reduce the risk of your bank account being wiped out.  . Also encrypt your data with dedicated software, or with the default encryption option, if available. You are probably going to take a lot of personal photos on the beach or in other circumstances that you may want to keep private. Use anti-theft programs to help you track your device and lock or wipe your data from afar.
• Don’t leave any technical devices unsecured in your hotel room. Take advantage of in-room safes not just for valuables such as jewelry, but also for mobile devices. Too many people could potentially access your room, and you have no way of knowing if those people are trustworthy.
• Tips to keep you safe on public WiFi networks. Never assume you’re alone on public WIFI network.  Disable file sharing, turn on your computer’s personal firewall, and never send Social Security numbers, passwords or financial information when using an unencrypted wireless connection. When staying in a hotel, find out if their wireless network uses WPA (WiFi Protected Access) before going online.  Other options include using a VPN (virtual private network) or purchasing a data plan, which is generally secure.
• Avoid being a victim of ransomware and other malware.  The ugly term rasnsomware is real.  Don’t let it ruin your vacation.  Cyptolocker became one of the most pervasive ransomwares this year. Ransomware is a type of malware that hijacks a device, takes control of its files, and demands payment from the user before relinquishing control.  A few tips to keep in mind: Keep all of the software on your laptop up to date; keep your firewall turned on, don't open spam email messages or click links on suspicious websites.

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