Traveling abroad – whether it’s for a business trip or vacation – poses some unique cyber threats.
But, with the right knowledge and a little caution, you can greatly enhance the safety of your personal or financial information while away. Let’s look at some tips covering critical security areas and see how to protect yourself.
- Only bring devices you absolutely need. A tablet or smartphone might be a better option than a laptop because those devices can often be more secure.
- Before leaving, ensure your operating system, browser, applications and software are up to date and you are using a reliable anti-virus product.
- Make sure the devices you bring with you can be locked and require a complex passphrase or fingerprint/facial recognition to activate.
- Always keep an eye on your devices – especially in airports or hotel rooms. Even the hotel safe isn’t a foolproof security option.
- If you are traveling to a high-risk country, consider purchasing a “burner” phone (a cheap, disposable phone) for the trip you can dispose of when you return home.
- Avoid using public, unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots, which put you at risk of having your communications and internet traffic intercepted. It’s better to create a personal hotspot with your phone and connect through an LTE, end-to-end encrypted channel. For even greater internet safety, also use a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which is easy to obtain.
- Check your devices to make sure they don’t automatically connect to nearby wireless or Bluetooth networks.
- Refrain from using public-access computers (such as those in hotel business centers or airport kiosks) because they may contain a computer virus or another form of malware that steals your information, including login credentials.
- Don’t rely on publicly available charging cords or USB ports for the same reason. It’s much safer to charge your device by plugging your own power cord into public electrical outlets.
- Limit your banking or other sensitive transactions overseas to those that are absolutely necessary.
- Bring only the identification, credit or debit cards you plan to use. However, always have at least two payment options available. Check beforehand to see if your credit cards have strong fraud protection in case your security is compromised overseas and opt-in for credit fraud alerts.
- When using a credit card to pay for an item, use the chip reader rather than swipe your card, whenever possible.
- Restrict using your debit card to withdrawals from ATMs located inside reputable banks.
Following these cybersecurity travel tips can provide a greater sense of security and allow you to better enjoy your visit abroad. If you’d like more tips about protecting your personal and financial information while overseas, talk to your Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor. Also, before leaving, consult the U.S. State Department’s country-specific list of travel alerts.