There are two schools of thought regarding cyber attacks: everyone’s at risk and I’m too small for anyone to tap. One is smart thinking, the other is dangerous.
According to Jeff Moss, founder of Black Hat and Def Con, two of the world’s foremost conferences on hacking and information security, and an advisor to the Department of Homeland Security, you’re better off assuming the first than believing the second. Here’s his advice for protecting yourself from cyber threats while traveling.
Use your passport instead of your driver’s license when asked to provide identification. The driver’s license, according to Moss, contains too much information, specifically your address and descriptive features like weight, height, sex, and eye color, that can be used against you if obtained by a hacker.
Don’t leave your devices unattended. While most people assume their hotel room is secure because of the lock on the door, Moss doesn’t feel comfortable with the risk unless his laptop’s hard drive is fully encrypted. He doesn’t want to give anyone access to sensitive, proprietary data should the computer be stolen while he’s away from the room.
Moss has an encryption tip for texting and voice calls from your mobile device. Signal is considered to be the “best, most secure” voice and text app and it works on both Android and iOS devices. It allows all your communication to avoid SMS fees and is completely private and untraceable because its server never stores your data.
Wifi that’s available in hotels or their business centers is often insecure, Moss says. If the service available won’t allow you to operate from your VPN — Virtual Private Network; a software security solution that encrypts your data and protects your information — then chances are whatever you send is vulnerable. If you encounter this situation, use your own hotspot.
Lastly, Moss recommends sharing sensitive information in person, especially if you’re conducting business about hush-hush topics such as mergers, acquisitions, or budget figures. You should assume you’re being listened to if you share such information over a device.
“It’s best to assume what you say on a normal phone will be listened to because the cost of intercepting stuff is so cheap that lots of people do it,” he said.
Don’t forget your travel hardware can provide RFID protection against these types of attacks. Travelpro’s Crew™ 11 20″ Business Plus Rollaboard®, the Platinum Magna 2 20” Business Plus Spinner and the Crew Executive Choice 2 collection all feature RFID protection.
Forewarned is forearmed, as they say. You don’t have to be paranoid in order to protect yourself, and protecting yourself doesn’t make you paranoid. It makes you smart.
How do you protect your data and communications? Do you have any favorite apps, processes, or devices? Tell us about them with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.
Photo credit: Christiaan Colen