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Follow Best Practices for Vacations and Travel

With everyone traveling this summer, both internationally and domestically, it’s a good time to review best practices to keep your data safe anywhere in the world. Here’s a checklist.

  • Know what local cellular and Wi-Fi conditions and limitations are like before you go and prepare in advance as best you can to protect your identity and data.
  • If you need to conduct business, i.e. buy something online or do something with a financial or health institution, use a cellular network or do it from the home of someone whose network you trust. Whenever you use a public Wi-Fi network, just assume that it could be compromised. Cellular connections are always safer.
  • When you check into a hotel or vacation rental, check the security of their network by trying to log on with “false” information. For example, if you provide the wrong room number and still get on a Wi-Fi network, there’s a good chance you are not on the secure network you think you are.
  • In hotels or rental properties, we’re all used to logging into our Netflix accounts or other streaming accounts. If you’re on a secure network, you’re likely OK. Just remember to log out of each account when you checkout.
  • The same is true for Apple or Google systems that link to rental cars. Make sure you wipe the rental car’s infotainment system clean of your data before you return the car.
  • If you’re traveling abroad, Western Europe is light years ahead of the US in terms of Wi-Fi security. But to be as safe as possible, you must have strong passwords and multi-factor authentication.
  • Consider a SIM card for a country in which you’ll be traveling, especially if you’re renting a car. That will give you access to GPS systems and enable you to make phone calls in case of an emergency or if you need directions. Again, in most modern countries, you can buy a SIM card from a vendor at the airport when you arrive. They should be able to install it for you and make sure it works before you get on your way. Some phones can use eSIM cards. Do your research about your phone and check options with your carrier.
  • Check with your carrier about roaming options. Some have plans that let you access local networks abroad but be aware that the cost can be quite high. I don’t like to use roaming because I can’t control my cost.
  • Know how your phone stores and backs up photos and videos. Your device has limited physical storage space and cloud storage for additional items, but you can buy more cloud storage. Many of you have iPhones and use iCloud. If that’s you, we suggest you buy 50 GB of iCloud storage for 99 cents per month before you go. Also, remember that if you delete a photo or video from your phone or tablet, you’ll delete it from iCloud, too. There are ways to get those deleted items back within 30 days, but you can avoid problems by being careful about what you delete.
  • If you’re going to China, turn off all your devices before you leave your US airport, and don’t turn them on until you get home. If you’re on a guided tour, the tour operator should have provided you with an itinerary and ways for people to get in touch with you in an emergency. People who have gone to China always seem to get hacked at some point. It’s good business for us, but we’d rather prevent the possibility of getting hacked.

We can answer some questions about technology and travel or point you to the best resources before your trip. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us with your questions.