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Story and photos by Yvette Cardozo

High on Adventure, September 2018

    Dubai camels head to the races
Dubai camels head to the races

    You might worry about flight delays, bad weather and disappointing accommodations when thinking about what could ruin your adventure vacation. But the lack of secure Internet access revealing social media posts and haphazard habits online can wreak havoc lasting long after beach tans fade and skis are put away. We thought our readers would appreciate having some valuable information about securing their personal devices and data while they're traveling to their adventurous venues.

    SNDR™ CEO and security expert Shaun Murphy (www.sndr.com) has created a series of tips you can use to help keep your personal information and private files safe while away from home.

    Even if you don’t want to follow all of this advice, adapting just a few of these common sense suggestions (update your operating system and anti virus/malware programs and apps, be careful of free WiFi, browse safely) might save some future grief.

  Viewing photos on a laptop while traveling   Enjoying a shave ice in Hawaii  
Viewing photos on a laptop while traveling
Enjoying a shave ice in Hawaii

Prep Before You Go

       Patch Up. Packing, printing airline tickets and organizing maps are not the only to-do list items that need to be tended to before a vacation begins. Check all devices you are leaving at home or taking on your trip for software updates. Not running routine system updates is akin to putting out the welcome mat for cyber criminals. Operating system security holes that could have easily been patched with a quick update click can leave you vulnerable to hacks.                                                   

       Remove Data. Backing up is always important, but before you travel it is essential. Removing unnecessary sensitive data from your devices you're taking on the trip including photos, videos, financial documents and stored passwords, can save you from losing precious data if your devices are breached, stolen or misplaced.   

      Wipe Your History. Clear your browser cache files and remove saved passwords. If you accidentally connect to an un-secure WiFi network while traveling, do not make it easy for criminals to steal your private information, such as bank access, work emails or photos.                            

       Fake It. Create temporary passwords for sites you plan on accessing while traveling. It is estimated that 60% of people use the same password, or a variation of one, for every account. If you get hacked while traveling, having a temporary “throwaway” password for email or social media will prevent your home accounts being compromised.  

  Ferry ride from Seattle   Kayaking off Vancouver Island  
Enjoying a summer day on the ferry from Seattle
Kayaking among islands of Vancouver Island, BC

While Traveling

       Pay Up. Avoid logging onto free Wi-Fi networks that are un-secure. If you do not have to ask a store, restaurant owner or employee for a password, it isn’t worth saving a few dollars to check your email for free. It could end up costing you a lot more in the long run if a hacker has set up a benign looking “free” network that he or she is using to read everything on your computer.                                                                                                                                  

       Browse Safely. Make sure you are using a secured connection to websites when available. A simple https:// instead of http:// in your web browser's URL bar will protect you from most threats, local and remote. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has created a utility that will automatically use a secure connection for you. Learn more about it at https://www.eff.org/Https-everywhere.

       A guide to encrypting all your internet traffic (https://pixelprivacy.com/resources/how-to-encrypt-your-traffic/) provides more context about why you’d want to use a tool like HTTPS Everywhere as well as other methods of encryption.                                                               

      Double Down. Enable two-factor authentication on your important web services (email, social media, etc), so in the event that someone does gain access to your passwords, they need a second code to get in. Guidelines for setting up two-factor authentication can be found at http://www.google.com/landing/2step.

  Hiking Namibia sand dunes   Relaxing on a Florida beach  
Hiking sand dunes in Namibia
Relaxing on a Florida beach

       Privatize Wi-Fi. For additional security when using a Wi-Fi network at a hotel or airport, consider using a VPN on your laptop. A VPN creates an encrypted connection to a third-party server, and all your Internet traffic is routed through that server. Snoopers on the network will only see encrypted data which means they can't corrupt or steal your stuff. 

        Share Wisely. While it is tempting to post about a vacation on social media or keep a blog about your adventures to stay in touch with family and friends, resist the urge. Every tidbit of information you publicly share online is a breadcrumb criminals can use to piece together a snapshot of your life that can lead to them to cracking your passwords and hacking your digital accounts. 

        Shut Down. Switch off the wireless connection on your phone, tablet and laptop when they are not in use. By keeping the connection off you are taking another step to protect your digital identity, by preventing an opportunity for criminals to automatically connect to your device on an open network without you ever knowing what happened.  

  Tour boat near Niagra Falls   Watching polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada  
Niagra Falls on the Canadian side
Watching polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada

After Returning Home     

      Sweep Clean. Running a security sweep when you get home is a wise precaution. Check your computer and other devices for spyware, malware and viruses. One indication that malware could be looking is an increase in memory use or data use that is otherwise inexplicable.

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