In our 24/7, always-on world, working on vacation is normal. But of course, this year we’re all under the cloud of the Covid-19 pandemic and holidays tend to be closer to home. Many people are counting their blessings that they were able to get away at all. Given the huge shift to home working there will be plenty of people also working while on vacation. If this is you, here are some top tips to keep you cyber safe so you can still enjoy your holiday.
Don’t lose it
When you’re on holiday it’s easy to misplace things and in the worst case actually have something stolen. If this is a smartphone, tablet, or tablet the loss of data can be deeply troubling. It can lead to major security risks if the data is sensitive. To guard against this, it’s important to back up your data and do so regularly when working on your devices.
In fact, you might want to work on your documents from your back up location so you don’t have the master copies on your devices. If so you can regularly delete the versions on your device. If you have the option to encrypt your data certainly do so and of course, ensure all security updates for applications and operating systems are applied before you leave.
Resist the urge to socialise
It’s a sign of the social times that when you access an online service you are asked to do so via your social accounts such as Google, Facebook, and others. If you have the option of signing in a different way do so. As we all know data tracking is big business for the social media behemoths, it helps them rake in billions of dollars each year.
So if you don’t want Zuckerberg, Bezos, et al from tracking your movements as you surf the waves, hang out on a beach or climb a rocky outcrop get yourself a VPN to hide your location. It not only protects your privacy but also gives you anonymity. Imagine kicking back on a beach and Zuckerberg leaps out from behind a sand dune shouting “gotcha.” The stuff of nightmares, or an overactive imagination, but you get the point.
There’s also the not insignificant matter of cybercriminals getting their mitts on your social media account ID credentials. Stolen creds on the dark web are so common some entrepreneurial cybercriminals actually give them away as an enticement to get fraudsters to pay for other services such as ransomware for rent.
Broadcasting in public
There are lots of things we shouldn’t do in public like wiping greasy fingers on someone else’s jacket and other deviant acts of varying shades. But on holiday, we tend to let things hang out, not literally hopefully. However, there is one area where we should always be on our best behaviour and that’s when connecting to public Wi-Fi.
Your boss might not be too happy if you rack up huge data roaming charges when you go over your mobile provider’s limits as you might well do, so using free public Wi-Fi hotspots is the logical alternative. Or is it?
When abroad, especially in popular tourist destinations, it’s a good idea to assume your public Wi-Fi activity is being monitored by cybercriminals. It’s an easy hit for them and by using free software (yes, free) they can scoop up all the data they are monitoring and then sift through it at their leisure looking for passwords, financial information, and anything else that has value.
This is why a VPN should be mandatory when using public hotspots. It creates a secure tunnel between your devices and with BullGuard VPN you also get military-grade encryption for your data, which would take more than a lifetime to crack. If your boss doesn’t see the sense in a VPN, or thinks it’s too complex and expensive have a word with him or her. BullGuard VPN is blindingly simple to use, just one click and go and it’s amazingly cost-effective. You can use it on six devices for the cost of a holiday cappuccino each month.
Have you ever used your credit or debit card and then discovered someone also used it to make a purchase in Hong Kong? It’s far more common than you think. Card skimmers hone in on ATMs located in tourist hotspots like bees to honey. They might insert a reader that collects lots of card numbers and PINS or a reader that can be withdrawn immediately after someone has used an ATM. Their methods are always evolving. When in need of an ATM it’s a good idea to find one that is inside of a building rather than outside because it’s less likely to be compromised.
The ubiquitous plague
Malware is to computers as Covid-19 is to densely packed crowds. It’s lurking unseen but it’s there somewhere and transmission in the right environment is a certainty. Every day the AV-TEST Institute registers approximately 350,000 new malware strains which should make you think twice about clicking on links that arrive in unexpected emails or websites that you are unwittingly redirected to.
As well as infecting your own device you may also end up infecting your company when you connect to its network or cloud applications. Ideally, all mobile devices would have good antimalware protection but a BullGuard survey in January this year of over 3,000 UK and US SMBs revealed that one-third of companies with 50 or fewer employees use free, consumer-grade cybersecurity. One in five companies has no endpoint security. Good grief.
If this is you it would be wise to consider using BullGuard Small Office Security. Designed exclusively for small businesses it protects all end-users devices via a centralised cloud dashboard. Using a triple-layered, machine learning fused, multi-award-winning antimalware engine, it keeps you and your company safe from all types of malware, including ransomware. And it’s simple to use. It will certainly make for peaceful holidays.