It’s that point in time where large numbers are heading on the way to their dream vacation, their favorite seaside, immaculate white sand beaches with their Laptop Computers, Mini Computers, Personal Digital Assistance (PDA) and Smart Phones. Travelers like to stay at secluded locations but seldom cut their connection with the real world.
Using free Wi-Fi hotspots and Public Computer Internet Services while traveling could spoil your vacation. Here are some of the known scams:
- Using public computers that record your session while accessing your bank online.
- Unsecured public computers that allow the next user to hit the back button on the browser.
- Your loved one receives an email letting them know you are stranded and asking for money. Other variants include:
- A desperate email that you have been mugged or jailed and need cash ASAP.
- I’ve lost my wallet on my way to the hotel. I’m flat broke.
- Our rental car was broken into and everything was taken.
Hopefully, the majority of us who receive this kind of email recognize the email as a scam. Regrettably, scams evolve constantly, and we can’t include all variations of scams. Instead, SNC comes up with numerous guidelines to secure your internet access while on vacation.
- Educate yourself concerning the kinds of scams on the Internet so that you are better equipped to defeat them. Call your friend (not email) if you receive an email about your friend being in trouble.
- Install a firewall with Anti-virus protection on your laptop. Firewalls are your first and best line of protection to monitor traffic between your computer and the Internet. Newer Microsoft Operating Systems come with a firewall, but it must be activated.
- Install Microsoft Virtual PC and assign a special session for vacation use only. Do not use this session to access any financial institution or important applications. Hackers will be limited to this session only.
- Know the pros and cons of Single Sign on. It is nice to use your Facebook account to sign on to different websites but what happens if your Facebook account gets compromised?
- The problem with bookmarks and favorites is that it’s not available on public computers. We can easily mistype a URL. A misspelled url (known as Link Manipulation) of the original website can be used against you. Links like http://www.faecebook.com instead of http://www.facebook.com. If you’re computer savy, take advantage of the web space provided by your ISP. Create a web page containing links with all your favorite internet sites.
- Don’t Drink and Surf! – this is how an accident happens on the internet once you drop your guard!
- Apply Microsoft updates and update security software before going on vacation. Update automatically and often to provide maximum protection from viruses, spyware and other cyber threats.
- Turn off your wireless network while on vacation, unless you have security devices that are connected. This will not only save you on the electric bill but also eliminate potential Internet hackers.
- Be careful changing your passwords while on vacation. Public computers might be capturing your keystrokes.
- Backup your data before going on vacation.
- Cyber crime continues to accelerate, and it’s being fueled by common mistakes people make when online, such as responding to spam or phishing scams or downloading attachments from people or sites they don’t know. Use common sense and caution; never post personal information online.
- Be careful about clicking on links or prompts to download software.
- Password protect your laptop with Pretty Good Privacy “PGP” whole disk encryption. In the event your laptop USB drive, or other device gets stolen or lost, it would be difficult for unauthorized users to access your data.
- Implement Lojack or similar security devices for laptops. Lojack sends out a signal via any internet signal. The signal is hidden and cannot be shut down.
If you are concerned about an American in distress overseas, but you are not sure if it is a legitimate case, contact Travel.state.gov at 888-407-4747 (from overseas: 202-501-4444).
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