Tips & Advice

Traveler Protection Guide — how to stay safe away from home

Charlotte Empey, 18 December 2017

Follow these tips to keep evil elves away from your data while you travel.

Plane tickets? On the table. Gifts? Ready to go. Suitcase? Packed. Carry-on? Fully stocked with ginger candy, crossword puzzles, and your laptop or tablet. ­Now, quick question—did you prep your device for this trip?

In today’s climate of cybercrime, any internet connection is cloudy with a chance of malware. Add to that the vulnerability of relying on unknown Wi-Fi routers away from home, and you’ve got some big reasons to take extra precaution.

And … you can take steps to protect yourself right now. Follow this Traveler Protection Guide and enjoy your holidays with peace of mind. Digitally, at least.

Before you board

Taking a few minutes now will save you hours of hassle later. Here’s your pre-flight checklist:

  • Disable sharing of files – Make sure you do not have any files or drives clicked to share, otherwise anyone on the same network will be able to access that data.
  • Bring everything up-to-date – Check for updates on all your apps, especially your operating system and security software.
  • Use a device-tracking app – Android users can use the “Find My Device” app while Apple users can turn on “Find My iPhone.” These can be invaluable services while away from home.

On the road

Following are best practices for keeping yourself (and your data) protected as you travel over the river and through the woods to the land of nieces, nephews, home-cooking, and your old twin bed. Learn these tips and live by them.

  • Keep Wi-Fi and Bluetooth off when not in use – Prevent unnecessary connections and keep others from detecting you when you don’t want to be detected.
  • Connect conscientiously and securely– When connecting to a new Wi-Fi, whether at a friend or relative’s house, be sure to get the exact name of the network so you don’t accidentally hook into a phony posing as the real one.
  • Always use a VPN on open Wi-Fi when doing banking business – Try to avoid checking your bank or credit card accounts. Never access them from an untrusted device or computer, and NEVER over public Wi-Fi.  Always, always use a VPN when you are banking.
  • Shop secure sites only – If you absolutely must shop online while you’re traveling and on open Wi-Fi, make sure the padlock icon is in the address bar, and the URL begins with “https” — signs you are on a secure site.   Also double-check the URL to make sure it is spelled correctly.  And beware: hackers can attempt to deceive you on https: websites as well. So keep vigilant.  If something with the domain name or anything else looks awry, leave the website and shop elsewhere.

Best protection

For online armor that does most of the heavy lifting so you don’t have to, install this cybersecurity software:

  • Antivirus – Basic antivirus protection is not only advisable, it’s practically a must! Download Avast Free Antivirus today and keep all those troublesome malware attacks at bay.
    Download Avast Free Antivirus
  • Password manager – So many online logins, so hard to remember them all. A password manager makes it easy for you.  If you downloaded Avast Free Antivirus above, you automatically have Avast Passwords as part of the package.  Use it on all of your devices and sync them so you can easily (and securely) login to your accounts online without having to remember your passwords.  The Avast password manager will auto-fill in your credentials so you don’t have to.  
  • VPN – Virtual private networks are like protective submarines in which you can travel through the internet anonymously and untraceably. It is by far the safest way to use a public Wi-Fi, and it’s just excellent protection in general. Download Avast SecureLine VPN, and even Santa won’t be able to see what you’re doing online.

From all of us at Avast, have a merry season and a happy new year, and may your holiday travels be joyful, relaxed, and—most of all—safe.