Use these smart tips from cybersecurity experts to foil hackers.

How to protect your devices while traveling abroad
Credit: Getty Images/Cultura RF

You may be on vacation, but hackers aren’t. Taking extra precautions can boost your digital security and help protect your phone and computer. Here are four ways you can prevent having your identity stolen while traveling overseas.

Know the risks

Be wary when visiting states with sophisticated espionage and cybercriminal operations, like Russia and China. A color-coded map published by the global security service firms International SOS and Control Risks offers a threat level gut check for health, violence, and cybercrime. Also check the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security website for up-to-date travel advisories and crime reports.

Limit your exposure

Keep all of your software patched and up to date. Delete or leave behind any sensitive data or files that you won’t need on your trip. Encrypt what remains with tools such as FileVault for Apple devices and BitLocker for Windows devices. Avoid plugging into unknown ports or using foreign USB sticks.

Assume all networks are hostile

That means hotels, airports, and cafés. Download the web browser plug-in HTTPS Everywhere to force secure connections where available and do our research before signing up for a virtual private network service. Some experts recommended F-Secure’s Freedome or Private Internet Access to shield your online behavior from snoops. Also read the helpful web-based guide Tech Solidarity by Maciej Ceglowski, a prominent developer and founder of the social bookmarking site Pinboard.

Leave it at home if possible

“My most important rule is, if you don’t need it, don’t take it with you,” says Dan Guido, CEO of Trail of Bits, a New York–based cybersecurity consultancy. Beyond that, he recommends using iPhones and iPads for mobile communication and a separate Google Chromebook as a laptop dedicated for travel. These are generally regarded as the most secure products on the consumer market. Finally, never leave devices unattended. Let your hair down on holiday, not your guard.