Wise up before you head on your hols
When you’re on holiday, you’re no doubt always connecting up to free Wi-Fi hotspots while you’re out and about in order to save data costs. But using public Wi-Fi may be more dangerous than you think, particularly abroad.
Password manager and digital vault service Keeper Security has compiled a list of the top 10 worst holiday destinations for cyber-security, based on the number of ‘mobile threats’ a country has had. In layman’s terms, this translates as the number of times someone’s phone or online data has been hacked and stolen.
Unfortunately it’s pretty bad news if you’re heading to the US this summer, as they are the worst offenders on the list with a whopping five million mobile threats. They’re closely followed by the UK, in at two million, showing that you don’t even have to leave the country to be seriously at risk.
So, how do you ensure your data stays safe while holidaying?
How to keep your data safe abroad
Fortunately, Keeper Security has some handy tips to help you up your online security abroad.
Be password savvy
Ensure that all your apps are password protected with new passwords (over eight characters long with a combination of nonsensical characters), and use two-factor authentication where possible for an extra layer of security. Don’t use the same password for a hotel safe that you do for your devices.
Use free public Wi-Fi with care
If you do use public Wi-Fi services, only input information you’d be happy with anybody else seeing – no personal information or passwords etc – especially if you haven’t subscribed for a global Wi-Fi service before and are doing so for the first time.
Don’t use public phone charging services
When you’re running out of battery, don’t charge your phone with anything other than your own charger plugged into the mains. It’s really easy for hackers to install malware onto public docking stations, so be sure to carry your own portable or mains charger with you wherever you go.
Read the full list of bad destinations for cyber-security below to ensure your data is protected this summer.
The worst destinations for cyber-security
1. The US – 5 million mobile threats
2. The UK – 2 million mobile threats
3. Spain – 1.7 million mobile threats
4. France 700,000 mobile threats
5. Poland – 475,000 mobile threats
6. Canada – 400,000 mobile threats
7. Italy – 400,000 mobile threats
8. Portugal – 375,000 mobile threats
9. The Netherlands – 320,000 mobile threats
10. Greece – 75,000 mobile threats
How to keep your data safe anywhere
Even when you’re back at home, cyber-security remains essential. Dr Jason RC Nurse, from the department of computer science at the University of Oxford, gives us some simple hacks to stay safe online.
If you have a smart speaker, be mindful of what you say around it and use its mute and ‘off’ functions. For instance, don’t read out your credit card details over the phone while standing next to Alexa. ‘The voice assistant could be accidentally activated and record your card number – this is then stored on the server in the cloud, which could be hacked,’ suggests Dr Nurse.
Always change default passwords, and use individual passwords for every account you have. If remembering all of them is a struggle, use a password manager – they save and generate strong passwords, and you’ll only need to remember the one that opens your password vault.
‘Tape over webcams on your laptop, tablet and smartphone, and never get dressed in front of a webcam,’ warns Dr Nurse. ‘There have been cases of hackers gaining access to people’s webcams, taking photos and then using them for so-called “sextortion”.’
Remember that location and microphone services can be switched off on individual apps in the settings.