COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Ready to get away, relax and kick up your feet? Just don’t let your digital guard down. Cybersecurity experts say cybercrime doesn’t take a vacation, making vacationers attractive targets.
“If you’re gone, say a week or two at a time, someone could come by your house, and we call it ‘war driving.’ You can try to hack into somebody’s Wi-Fi,” said Nick Powers, COO of technology consulting company, UNCOMN.
Powers said hackers are looking to get their hands on your data and finances, while you take some time off this summer. But there are simple steps you can take to protect yourself.
“If you do have computers, iPads, other devices, that you have that you would normally be checking on a day-to-day basis, but you’re not taking those with you, you want to make sure you power those off,” said Powers. “If you use your computer for personal banking or something like that and someone got on that computer, they’d be able to steal your credentials or do other things in your name that you don’t want them to do.”
Powers said it’s also important to be aware of how you’re using technology while you’re away. “Do not use public Wi-Fi as much as possible.”
Public networks at fast food restaurants, coffee shops, hotels or vacation rentals could be dangerous. But, if you need to log on, Powers suggested using a VPN.
“It’s a piece of software, that after you’ve connected to the Wi-Fi, you run all your connections through that piece of software and it encrypts all that traffic as it’s using that public Wi-Fi, which prevents a hacker from spying on what you’re doing while you’re using that,” Powers said.
Before you hit the road or board a plane, Powers said it’s a good idea to use multifactor authentication on your online accounts.
“It doesn’t necessarily require you to continuously change your passwords, but what it does require is that you enter a password and a code,” said Powers. “It really reduces the chances that someone could steal your credentials and use that to log in to your accounts.”
A few other things to keep in mind:
- Avoid online banking or logging on to your retirement accounts, anything with access to your finances.
- If the place you’re staying has a digital lock, ask if you can choose the code. That way, you’ll know you’re the only one with it.
- If you are watching TV in a vacation rental, make sure you log out of all devices and streaming services before you leave.
- If you need internet access, consider using your own Wi-Fi hot spot.