Bari Abdul is the global head of Check Point’s Consumer Business, ZoneAlarm, and is focused on innovating consumer security for the digital age.
Summer brings travel, online transactions, emailed itineraries, and more. So while you’re getting ready for vacation season, you should get smart about how to protect yourself online.
You need to ask yourself, what happens if the sensitive information on my hard-drive falls into the wrong hands?
At the very least, online scammers can harm your reputation. What’s worse is that they can steal your identity or even use information that you supply online to rob you in the real world.
Here are some ways to beat this season’s hottest online security threats so you can focus on having fun in the sun:
Need to get fit? Watch-out for workout-related scams
It’s that time when we’re all motivated to look our best. But your search for some popular workout routines might make you a target for “black hat,” or generally illegal, search engine optimization campaigns. These campaigns use the names of popular fitness programs and celebrity trainers to lure you to click on websites that aren’t legitimate. And, the scams can show up right in your trusted Google search. Be careful of what you click on and look at the URL before you go to a website. If you know the website you want to go to, such as Travelocity, type the URL directly into your address bar instead of going through a search engine.
Taking off for vacation? Be careful not to share too much.
You arrive at your beachfront hotel. Even though the view is too breathtaking not to share, doing so could put you at serious risk. According to a recent TripAdvisor study, 27 percent of travelers most often “check-in” when arriving at their hotel, 25 percent check-in at a landmark/attraction, and 19 percent check-in at a restaurant. And, overall, 57 percent post status updates. But this can leave your home at risk for theft. While it’s tempting to click and share the play-by-play highlights of your vacation, you may be letting a lot of people know that you are away – more than you realize. It’s like posting an open invitation to burglarize your unoccupied residence. So, resist the urge to post your photos and the memories from your trip until you get back home. You don’t want anything to be used against you, to steal your identity or to compromise your safety and security while you are away or at home.
Be careful when you surf in public places
Taking a vacation would be even better if you could completely disconnect. But for most of us, that’s not realistic. When you are traveling, it’s likely that you’ll have to use a public network to check your email, get a little work done and update friends and family. These networks are often not very secure. When you connect on your hotel Wi-Fi or the local café, avoid doing any tasks such as online banking or shopping. These require you to enter private details like your credit card number.
Also make sure your antivirus and firewall applications are up-to-date. This will protect you from any viruses that can come from opening emails or surfing the web. Verify that you are using a Wi-Fi network that is connected with the place that you are visiting by asking a cashier or concierge desk for which network they operate. Hackers have been known to create fraudulent networks that look legitimate so they can capture your login information and steal your private data like bank details, credit card numbers, social network passwords, and more.
Keep your photos, itineraries and passport information secure
While on vacation, connecting to those insecure Wi-Fi networks, you may have specific documents already on your computer that you want to protect. Maybe it’s your itinerary, maybe it’s a photo of you with a yard-long margarita. One way to protect the personal or sensitive information stored on your computer is to use file and folder locking software with encryption. The software lets you secure data on your laptop or a USB with a unique password. So if you leave your laptop in a taxi somewhere or your USB drive gets lost, your information won’t be found and used by unscrupulous types.
Whether you plan to travel to a faraway resort or stay local, don’t get burned by online security threats this summer. Be aware and bring along your protection, whether it is SPF or antivirus. You’ll ride the wave of safety when it comes to your PC and private information.
Bari Abdul is the global head of Check Point’s Consumer Business, ZoneAlarm, and is focused on innovating consumer security for the digital age. Abdul has successfully combined his brand management know-how with technology product development and online marketing skills to add breakthrough value to consumer facing companies. He has over 20 years of experience developing and executing go-to-market strategies that deliver record revenue and market share.