Spring is right around the corner, and for many, that means spring break travel. While we often use that time to get away from work or school, that doesn't mean we leave our tech behind.
Smartphones, tablets, laptops, and even game systems can be great distractions, but if we're honest, you're likely to want to sneak a peek at your work email, check your bank account, or even do a little shopping by the pool.
So how can you protect your accounts and private information while on the go? Geek Squad has you covered with security tips for the wireless traveler.
Prepare Your Tech Before Packing Your Bags
Once you’ve got your planning done and you’re ready to pack your favorite vacation outfits, don’t forget to do a quick inventory of any tech you’re bringing with you.
Make sure that you’ve run all operating system and software updates, and any installed security software is ready to go. Include checking for firmware updates on your smartphone, tablet and portable gaming system. This not only will help to keep your devices secure but reduces the annoyance of trying to download an update on a slow hotel network.
One option to consider is upgrading your most commonly used passwords to new, stronger passwords to better protect your devices and accounts while travelling. Even if you don’t change passwords beforehand, it’s a good idea to consider changing any passwords you used while on a network that you don’t control once you get home. Just in case.
A great way to do this is to use the password manager that may be included with your Internet Security software, or a separate password manager app such as Lastpass, Dashlane, Roboform and similar.
Criminals Love Coffee Shops, Cafes, and Other Public Wi-Fi
While you're waiting to catch a flight, or enjoying a cup of cappuccino, it's tempting to jump onto that free wireless hotspot offered at the airport, coffee shop, or lounge for some quick Internet access. It's convenient, but keep in mind that you're not the only one on that network.
Many public wi-fi networks will allow you to connect to the network without a password. It's important to consider that short user agreement they may ask you to accept doesn't mean you're protected from snooping from a savvy computer criminal that connected to the same network.
Keep this in mind when surfing websites on that network and avoid accessing private accounts such as email or banking. You may even wish to avoid surfing websites that may provide a clue to your travel itinerary, such as hotel or transportation sites while on that public network.
If you do need to access one of those personal accounts, it’s best to disconnect from the public wi-fi and connect directly using the mobile broadband (3G, 4G. or LTE) connection on your smartphone.
How About That Hotel Hotspot?
When checking into your hotel, take the time to ask what the name of the hotel’s official guest network will appear as. This will ensure you’re connecting to the correct wireless network, and not a random router that’s not controlled by that hotel.
Keep in mind that while access to the hotel’s floors may not be publicly accessible, the network is shared by other guests. You’ll want to stick with much of the same security practices as you would on a public network.
If you do need to connect to a private online account, make sure that the website addresses you are connecting to begins with “HTTPS”. The “S” is the important part, as it indicates that the connection is secure and encrypted. If your school or work provides for a virtual private network (VPN) access, this feature can help protect your connection by making it normally unreadable to others that might snoop the network
Quick Tips Recap:
- Update the software and security on your devices.
- Protect accounts with new, better passwords.
- Avoid accessing sensitive accounts on networks you don’t control
- Check with your hotel for the correct wireless network
- Use mobile broadband access on your smartphone if needed
Whether before you leave, or while already on the go, Geek Squad Agents are standing by to help with questions at your local Best Buy, through online chat, or by phone at 1-800 GEEKSQUAD (800-433-5778).