Cybersecurity Tips for the Holidays and Traveling
December 5, 2023 •The Cyber Montana Team
The holidays are a time for joy and family. They are also a time of heightened cybersecurity attacks. Forbes recently published a list of increased cybersecurity threats and solutions during the holiday season. Cybereason published a research report in June of 2021 that found ransomware attackers take advantage of holidays and weekends when planning attacks. It is important to stay vigilant and prepared for cyber threats and/or attacks. Identity theft has increased as online purchases have increased.
During the holidays, internet use increases significantly. It is important to keep your computer and other mobile devices clean. This is true while using your devices in the comfort of your home and while traveling. It is always important to keep your devices clean but the holidays do prove to be a good reminder to run virus protection and verify your computer has the latest updates installed. Malware checks should be kept up regularly throughout the year. Although keeping your computer clean and up to date, there are other ways to make sure your computer remains clean. Threats can emerge from the most likely of places.
Key Factors to Keep In Mind When Traveling:
- Use secure Wi-Fi. Do not use public Wi-Fi. This can of course feel challenging when traveling. Prepare ahead of time and secure a virtual private network or use your cell phone as a personal hotspot. (This is good advice when using public Wi-Fi in general.)
- Do not post travel photos or information on social media while traveling. Posts can be scheduled into appear at a later date. This allows you to capture your adventure in real time but share photos and information when you are safely back at home. This also helps you avoid the picture dump that can happen during a trip. If you are away for a week, you can schedule posts throughout the week as you would during your adventure.
- Provide your own personal chargers while on vacation. Yes. Hotels do often have USB ports connected to different light fixtures throughout your room. Airports do have options as well. Did you know this is one way malware/ransomware can be introduced to your device? This is a public port, bringing the same concern as using public Wi-Fi.
- When renting a car, if you tie your phone to Bluetooth or USB, disconnect it before returning your car. When you tie your phone to the car, you want to clear your connection before returning the vehicle to the rental company. This is actually how one criminal was caught. The individual stole a car. The car was found but with no information or leads as to who stole it. Until their information showed up on the car’s system. The individual was eventually arrested.
It is as important to stay vigilant while celebrating the holidays at home as it is when you travel. The holidays are often a time when there is some splurging and new devices or larger technology products are purchased. How you dispose of your delivery boxes is important. These larger or more identifiable larger-priced purchases are very noticeable in your trash disposal. Remove your personal information, such as name/address.
All of your accounts should be monitored. This time of year provides a great opportunity to get back on track by monitoring accounts regularly. Accounts can include financial accounts, such as bank accounts and credit accounts. It can also include being vigilant in regards to keeping an open eye on scams. This includes emails. Attention should be paid to phishing emails, securely working from home, and keeping data safe when using a mobile device. Look into both your bank account and credit account liability policies. Does one have a ‘zero liability’ policy for fraudulent activity?
Staying Cyber Safe All Year Long
We cannot stress enough the importance of a strong password. A password should have at least 12 characters and include numbers and symbols. One suggestion is to use a combination of three words that do not necessarily relate to each other. Remember to never use the same password for multiple sites. Keep passwords individual. Use a password management site to keep track of your various passwords.
Want to learn more?
CyberMontana provides opportunities to assist you in staying safe all year round. This includes opportunities for new learners, which includes adult learners who are interested in pivoting into entry-level cybersecurity or IT careers as well as individuals currently in entry-level cybersecurity or IT careers who are interested in upskilling and progressing their careers. This also includes high school students interested in learning about cybersecurity or pursuing a Certificate of Technical Studies. There are opportunities for workforces to strengthen their cybersecurity defenses through Security Awareness Training.