Monday, February 1, 2016

Be Careful Where You Recharge



I like to share some helpful tips that will benefit you and your devices. Last year, and these still hold true, I shared with you some helpful buying tips when choosing a new Android device either for yourself or as a gift. This year I want to provide some tips on how to keep your devices safe. These tips are very good to use while traveling, but actually good ideas for anytime.

I'd like to preface this by saying that I am not a cyber security expert. However, I have done a lot of research on cyber security basics in order to keep my personal devices, and my family's devices, safe from cyber attack. I've spoken with cyber security experts who work in my day to day office to get their feedback. This is a compilation of my research and their feedback.
Probably, one of the most important tips for keeping devices safe while traveling, is to be very careful where you charge your device. I recommend caring at least two chargers with you. If different devices take different chargers (ie. Lighting cable vs. Micro USB) take two of each. I would NOT use the charging stations in public areas. Airports and train stations have public charging stations now. A place where you go to simply plug in your USB cable and then leave your phone there, most of the time, unattended.

This is a bad idea for at least 2 reasons:
  1. You should never leave your phone unattended. People will snatch it and steal it so quick. Despite the "password" or "passcode" you put on that phone, it still has value as a piece of hardware and they will pawn it very quickly. They won't even erase it.
  2. These stations have a very high likelihood for cyber attacks. Some of these stations have a cabinet underneath, and in the cabinet is a computer. Anything attached to that station (and now that computer) is vulnerable to any hacker that has access to that computer.

In hotels, you need to always secure your device. If it will fit in the hotel safe (this includes tablets), put it there. Do not leave the device lying on a flat surface and then go to the gym, or the pool, or anywhere else for that matter. If it will not fit in the safe, take it with you.

When traveling by car, keep your devices on you. If you leave your phone in the car mount on the dashboard, it's an open invitation to have your car broken into. Please don't think that locking your car door and leaving it in the car mount is going to stop a criminal. That's why we call them criminals. Locked doors don't stand in their way.

Never connect to an open wifi for internet access. There are so many open wifi networks while traveling, please make sure you only connect to secure ones. These will have an icon with a lock on it which represents that it is guarded by a password. You may have seen some open networks are guarded with what's called a "splash screen". This is a screen asking you to agree to terms and conditions before you use their wifi. If they splash screen does not request a login username and password, it is not considered "secure" and it should be avoided. Open networks can be found everywhere: restaurants, malls, stores, coffee shops, doughnut houses, the list goes on and on. If you're not absolutely positive that it's secure, avoid it.

If your are traveling internationally, do some research on the country's reputation for telecommunications tracking. Some goverments control that. Which means when your phone is connected (wifi or cellular network) it could be, and probably is, monitored. This one is scray, but true.

That's the best advise I have for now on traveling safe with your electronics. If you know of any additional tips for safe secure travel practices, put them down in the comments.



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