It's summer, so chances are good that you're planning on taking a trip sometime in the next couple of months. While the prospect is exciting, it can also be daunting for those who aren't sufficiently prepared to protect themselves and their assets while they're traveling.
"When people go away on vacation, it's more likely that they'll be the target of an attack," says Ryan Jones, a managing consultant for Lares. "Is it a guarantee? Of course not. But it's more likely."
The likelihood of an attack increases both as a result of the fact that people are away from home and because of risky behavior on the vacation itself. It doesn't help that in this day and age, people also have a tendency to overshare on social media, says Jerry Irvine, CIO of Prescient Solutions.
"A number of people today are breached, physically or electronically, as a result of placing their vacation plans or info online," he says.
Jones concurs, stressing that using social media to announce your vacation plans is especially detrimental to the safety of the home you're leaving behind. "Their house is empty for a while and they talk about it on social networks, so if someone is paying attention, they know what house is empty and when," he says.
Aside from not getting carried away on Facebook, Jones says that there are plenty of measures people can take to protect their homes in their absence, ranging from the basic to more involved techniques. Simple measures, like having somebody pick up your mail and newspaper or placing your lights on timers, go a long way.
But for the more technologically savvy crowd, there are also a number of home camera and alarm systems that people can equip their homes with, and those systems will in turn alert their phones in the event of a break in. Many of these security options also allow users to turn lights on and off, as well as lock and unlock doors (which can also be used to create the illusion that people are home).
"These systems have motion trackers so if a door opens, it sends a message or a video to your phone saying, 'Hey, this just happened, here's a picture of it, do we alert your friends, call the police, etc.,'" says Jones. "I'm at the point that that I prefer those over [traditional] home monitor alarms."
That being said, such systems can, in their own way, introduce even more risk to the equation.
"The problem is, if someone steals your phone or PC and has access, now they can turn off the alarm and go in there," says Irvine. "Internet-connected protection measures like that are great if you protect the devices you control them with. If you don't, they're just another vulnerability."
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