Cybersecurity On the Go
So, you were awarded a grant to conduct research overseas, or you have decided to spend your junior year abroad. Congratulations! As you are preparing for your trip and packing the usual items—toiletries, extra clothes, electronics—take some preemptive steps to ensure your safety in the digital world while traveling.
BEST CYBERSECURITY PRACTICES BEFORE YOU LEAVE:
Keep a clean machine. Before you leave, update. Make sure all security and critical software is up-to-date on your connected devices, and keep them updated during travel. Updated software contains the latest fixes to known threats.
Lock down your login. Your usernames and passwords alone just do not offer the strongest protection for your important accounts. Use multi-factor authentication, biometric tools or security tokens for an added level of protection. Learn more at lockdownyourlogin.org and duo.ku.edu.
Make sure all devices are password protected. Any device that connects to the internet or that stores sensitive data needs to be protected. Lock it. Use a unique passcode for each device that only you know, and memorize them. Do not write them down.
Own your online presence. Share with care. Review the privacy and security settings on all web services—especially social media—and devices. Turn off any “posting publicly” settings on social media and limit who can see what you’re posting (and where you are) while away. Or even better, wait until you get home before posting about your trip.
BEST CYBERSECURITY PRACTICES WHILE TRAVELING:
Never use public computers for anything more than browsing. You can’t be too cautious when using public computers. Be especially wary of computers in busy locations with a lot of turnover, such as airports, hotel lobbies and Internet cafes. Check for thumb drives or other USB devices in the machine, as well as any devices connected between the keyboard and computer. Keep your activities as generic and anonymous as possible.
Be wary of public Wi-Fi. Do not transmit personal info or make purchases on unsecured networks. Instead, use a virtual private network (VPN) or your phone as a personal hotspot to surf more securely. KU students, faculty and staff also can use their KU Online ID and password to log in to Eduroam secure Wi-Fi networks at thousands of locations in 90 countries. Learn more at eduroam.org.
Actively manage location services. Location tools come in handy while planning your trip or navigating a new place, but they can also expose your location—even through photos. Turn off location services when not in use.
Turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when idle. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are useful tools, but they are also great ways to track your whereabouts to a detailed degree. If you don’t need the services, turn them off.
Protect your money. Make sure your connection is secure when making purchases or logging in to financial websites, including banks, credit card companies, etc. Look for web addresses that begin with “https://” or “shttp://” These signal that the site takes extra security measures. An “http://” address is not secure.
Find more tips at itsecurity.ku.edu/travel.
Note: Portions of this story came from staysafeonline.org, the website of the National Cybersecurity Alliance: staysafeonline.org/press-release/stay-cyber-aware-internet-safety-month