One mistake travelers tend to make on vacation is letting their guard down when it comes to cybersecurity. Chances are, our home wifi is already fairly secure, and we feel free to pay our bills and do our banking online without any worry.
So you may think nothing of logging into your bank account and paying a few bills while you’re on vacation, or using your laptop in your hotel room to use Facebook and check emails.
Except public wifi hotspots are risky and unsecured at best. They may even be fake networks set up by hackers looking to break into your laptop. If you’re going to use any electronic devices to go online, it’s strongly advisable to follow a few security rules and use a few security tools to ensure your devices and information remain safe.
1. Be VERY Careful About Strange Wifis
Free hotel, restaurant, and airport wifi networks are notoriously unsecure, and you’re at risk just by logging into one. Never do anything with your finances or share personal information on an unsecure network without a VPN (see below). Even networks that require a password are still not very secure, so additional protection is important.
Worse yet are the fake networks set up to trick you into logging on. For example, if you’re staying at a Holiday Inn, you might expect to see HolidayInn as your network of choice. But perhaps there’s also a **HolidayInn** network. So you choose the second one, thinking it’s also safe. Except it’s not.
You know how, when you’re on a mission, and you reach your hotel, you check for surveillance equipment, and secure the door against counter-intelligence operatives?
Not so much? Me neither.
Drew Dwyer does. He’s a Marine veteran and former CIA operative who shared his hotel check-in safety checklist with Entrepreneur.com. He’s been on countless missions in other countries, and developed a habit of making sure his hotel room was as safe as he could make it.
Our vacations may not be as danger-filled and exciting as Dwyer’s, but there are still a few things we can do to be safe while staying in a hotel. Here are a few of the items from Dwyer’s list.
Now that my family and I live in Orlando, we’re only an hour from the nearest beach, which means we’ll be going a lot more, especially in the fall and winter. In fact, we’re already planning a couple days in Cocoa Beach, and nearby New Smyrna (home of the Bob Ross Museum! Yes, that Bob Ross.)
Before that, when we came down to Florida for vacation, we always took a day to visit Melbourne Beach, and we learned a few important lessons from going.
- Do your research first While we always think of the sand and surf at a beach, some beaches can be rather dangerous. Some beaches can be rocky, while others can be close to volcanoes — looking at you, Hawaii! — and still others can have jellyfish and shark problems. Read travel reviews and beach sites to see whether your chosen beach is on the danger list, or maybe isn’t as sand-filled as you hoped. Some beaches even have daily reports of dangers like high surf, rip tides, and specific sea critters to watch out for.