This week the FBI published a press release with recommendations for travelers to help them keep their online data and devices secure this holiday season. What security risks are at the top of its list? Connecting to free Wi-Fi when away from home is the chief culprit when it comes to exposing yourself to possible hackers in a public space. Although many users set their device to auto-connect to free wireless networks, this can expose you to all sorts of threats.
“This is an open invitation for bad actors to access your device,” relates the release, “They then can load malware, steal your passwords and PINs, or even take remote control of your contacts and camera.”
If you really have no other option than to use an unsecured hotspot, “avoid doing anything sensitive like accessing your bank account,” – you could inadvertently give a hacker your user ID and password. Many phone carriers also offer personal mobile hotspot options – which are also more secure.
The press release also warned against location sharing, and other holiday-related risks:
- If you are having guests stay at your home, consider setting up a separate Wi-Fi account for them. That way, if they are running unsecured devices on your network, you can segregate their vulnerabilities from your sensitive data.
- Disable location services – including those on your social media accounts and in your camera settings – that tell people where you are.
- Finally, as hard as this may be in a world of oversharing, consider NOT pushing out pictures and posts about your grand adventures. Yes, your kids are adorable and Christmas morning was the best ever – but do you really want to tell the world that you are away from home?