It’s that time of the year again. It’s the holiday season, and this means lots of travel as people take time off to celebrate and reconnect. Mobile devices are a huge part of our lives, ranging from smart phones to tablets and laptops. Users should remember the real threats and vulnerabilities surrounding the use of these devices, holidays notwithstanding.
The Department of Homeland Security’s US-CERT has released tips on how to secure internet-enabled devices—not only during the holiday travel, but throughout the year.
Do Not Use Public Wi-Fi Networks
Avoid using open Wi-Fi networks to conduct personal business, bank, or shop online. Open Wi-Fi networks at places such as airports, coffee shops, and other public locations present an opportunity for attackers to intercept sensitive information that you would provide to complete an online transaction.
If you simply must check your bank balance or make an online purchase while you are traveling, turn off your device’s Wi-Fi connection and use your mobile device’s cellular data Internet connection instead of making the transaction over an unsecure Wi-Fi network.
Turn Off Bluetooth When Not in use
Bluetooth-enabled accessories can be helpful, such as earpieces for hands-free talking and external keyboards for ease of typing. When these devices are not in use, turn off the Bluetooth setting on your phone. Cyber criminals have the capability to pair with your phone’s open Bluetooth connection when you are not using it and steal personal information.
Be Cautious When Charging
Avoid connecting your mobile device to any computer or charging station that you do not control, such as a charging station at an airport terminal or a shared computer at a library. Connecting a mobile device to a computer using a USB cable can allow software running on that computer to interact with the phone in ways that a user may not anticipate. As a result, a malicious computer could gain access to your sensitive data or install new software.
Don’t Fall Victim to Phishing cams
If you are in the shopping mode, an email that appears to be from a legitimate retailer might be difficult to resist. If the deal looks too good to be true, or the link in the email or attachment to the text seems suspicious, do not click on it!
What to do if Your Accounts are Compromised
If you notice that one of your online accounts has been hacked, call the bank, store, or credit card company that owns your account. Reporting fraud in a timely manner helps minimize the impact and lessens your personal liability. You should also change your account passwords for any online services associated with your mobile device using a different computer that you control.