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7 Digital Safety Tips for Summer Vacation

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Are you and your family traveling this summer? Now that school is out, it’s a good time to go on that trip you’ve been planning! But before you go, there are some things you need to know about digital safety when you’re on the road. Here are some tips to protect your data from prying eyes so you can have one less thing to worry about on your vacation.

  1. Update your devices. This means your laptop, smartphone, tablet, whatever you’re bringing needs to be up to date. Many updates patch security issues that hackers can exploit to get at your data. And don’t forget to update your antivirus software! All of your devices should have some kind of virus protection on them. Be sure they’re up to date or you could be vulnerable to all kinds of nasty bugs.
  2. Back up your devices before you leave. I know you don’t plan on losing your devices or having them stolen, but should that happen, backing up your most important data ahead of time will save you a lot of grief. An encrypted USB or external hard drive are good options or you could use an online backup service.
  3. Consider downloading Find My iPhone on your devices. In case one of your iOS devices is lost or stolen, you can use this app to locate it. If you have iCloud enabled and Find My iPhone installed on your iOS device, you can even wipe your phone of all data remotely. If you have an Android, you don’t have to download an app at all. You do have to go through some initial set-up before you go on your trip, though.
  4. If you’re planning to bring along a device that has particularly sensitive data on it that you absolutely can’t let fall into the wrong hands, leave it at home. The data, I mean. Once you’ve backed up that valuable data, delete it from your computer. And if that’s not secure enough, just leave the device at home. Just use your smartphone for work email. If there are documents that you absolutely have to access, upload them to Google Drive or Dropbox but don’t upload whatever documents that were important enough to leave your laptop behind. Besides, getting away from your laptop is part of going on vacation.
  5. Password protect all of your devices. And if your device allows, enable session timeouts so that if you’re not using your device for a while, it will automatically time out and ask you to login again. In the event that any of your devices are stolen or simply left unattended (bonus tip: don’t do that), it won’t be so easy for thieves to browse through your data. The device may be gone but your data is safe.
  6. Don’t use unprotected wi-fi. If the wi-fi doesn’t ask for a password and/or gives you a warning saying that “information sent over this network might be visible to others,” don’t use it. Hackers can easily browse any information you provide over an unsecured connection, whether that means login credentials, a google search, or the contents of an email. If you know you’re going to need wi-fi but you don’t know of any secure hotspots, bring a 3G or 4G hotspot and password protect it. And as a general rule, don’t do any online banking or shopping over wi-fi you don’t know or trust.
  7. Wait until you get home to post about your trip on social media. I know, you really want all your friends to see what a fun time you’re having on your vacation but do you really want to broadcast to the world the fact that your house is empty? Before your trip you can go on Facebook and say that you’re going to go on vacation soon but don’t say when. And if you’re worried about having all your vacation photos on one device that you could lose, just email them to yourself or upload them to the cloud. You’ll get just as many likes when you’re home.

Nothing ruins a vacation faster than having your valuables stolen and that includes your data. Be sure that you talk to your kids about these tips as well. They may not have credit cards that can be compromised but they likely have devices and accounts that could be hacked. Hopefully these tips will help your whole family have a fun and safe summer vacation.

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