Protect Your Technology While Traveling

It’s finally here, that wondrous moment where you shut down your computer and push in the chair, lifted by the knowledge that your vacation has just begun.  You exhale as the stress leaves your shoulders.  It’s all you can do to keep from bounding into a skip as you head out the door.

Chances are that somewhere amongst the sunscreen, questionable shorts, and credit cards is a smart phone, tablet, and/or laptop.   So, this begs the question, what’s the best way to protect your technology and the data it contains while traveling?

Protecting Physical Technology
One of the biggest threats to your smart device is gravity.  No matter how careful we try to be, we all know that pang of fear when our smart phone slips from a pocket or hand then plummets towards the ground.  While a broken screen would have met a slight cost of repair a few years ago, the new smart phone screens are much more expensive.  It’s highly recommended that you invest in a sturdy case that has been tested for drop distance impacts.  Investing in a properly sized carry bag for laptops and tablets is also important if you’re bringing them along.

Perhaps an even greater threat to your technology is theft, the scourge of travelers everywhere.  The chances of getting your device back after it’s been stolen is just a shade higher than zero.  A good rule of thumb when it comes to smart devices is to treat them like you would your wallet or purse.  Would you leave your wallet or purse on a table then walk away for a few minutes, or leave either one in an empty hotel room?  Probably not.  Your smart phone, tablet or laptop shouldn’t be treated any different.

Protecting Your Data
Like many people, there’s sensitive data contained within your smart device.  Perhaps much of this data is work related.  Understanding that there are different ways for your data to be compromised, and take some basic precautions.

Beware of WiFi hotspots.  Although some caution is recommended when dealing with hotspots in general, this is especially important when traveling abroad.  Untrusted hotspots can often lure unsuspecting travelers into a web of data breaches.  These hotspots are often completely unprotected, and in extreme cases, nothing more than a digital tourist trap for identity theft.  Avoid the temptation to update programs while on vacation, instead do so before you take off.

Taking precautions like ensuring you are going through an encrypted network and going through a VPN (Virtual Private Network) are highly recommended.  When looking at encryption protection, WPA2 is the better choice if available.  If connecting through a VPN, talk with your IT department before your vacation to make sure you’re good to go.

Most smart devices can be secured with passwords.  New devices even scan fingerprints as a security measure.  Whatever security lock your device provides, make sure it’s utilized.  Another handy feature of many smart devices is a tracking option.  While it may be somewhat unlikely this will result in getting the device back, it is a possibility.  And most of the programs allow for a remote lock, or even a remove data wipe if need be.  In the rare case the remote wipe is needed, or your device is stolen, it’s a good practice to back up your data before your vacation.

While these precautions may seem  like a lot to remember, most of these practices will soon become second nature with a bit of mindfulness, leaving you free to enjoy your well earned vacation.