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Beef up your security and avoid being a victim on vacation this summer

Grant Hatchimonji | July 9, 2014
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.

"Making yourself stand out as a tourist will leave you susceptible to an attack," says Jones. "Blend in, and be aware of your surroundings. Standing there with a physical map or with your phone out to make sure you're going the right way, wearing a fanny pack or a camera, dressing out of place, being in a neighborhood and asking a lot of questions...all of these things make you stand out."

That's not to say that you can't ask questions or go somewhere that you've never been. It's just that there are safe ways to do so. If you are lost or have any inquiries, pick somewhere you can trust, like a store or a police station. If you don't know how to get from point A to point B, take a cab. As Jones says, it's "cheaper than getting mugged."

"You're not at home, so stop acting like you're at home," says Jones. "You can have fun, but you can be safe at the same time."

There are a number of options to secure yourself on the road from both a physical and cyber perspective. Some of the ways travelers can steer clear of attackers are fairly obvious. Keeping your wallet in your front pocket and locking up valuables like passports, jewelry, and computers in hotels safes is a convenient way to protect your valuables while you're on vacation. Plus, it makes you more conspicuous to potential criminals.

"Cellphones, cameras, watches...all those things that people wear and don't pay attention to the fact that they're wearing, they attract attention," says Jones. "If you're in a bad part of town with your laptop in a bag and watch on and a cell phone on you, people are going to notice that sort of thing."

Locking up electronics can go a long way in preventing cyberattacks too, says Irvine, who points out that people should be sure to use complex codes ("Not '1234,'" he says) when locking up valuables in safes.

"People think that hacking is just an issue with what you can do on computers and cellphones," says Irvine. "It's not. It's just a matter of access. People who leave their computers [unprotected] in their room or in their bags while at the beach, these things are going to be easily accessible.

Protecting yourself from more traditional forms of cyberattacks is just as important, though. Don't leave your Bluetooth or Wi-Fi on if you're not using it. If you're communicating with your company's network, only do so via VPN. Machines containing sensitive data -- both PCs and mobile devices -- should all be encrypted, as well.

"Encrypt anything mobile," says Jones. "When it comes to smartphones and microSD cards, there are built-in ways to do that. Full drive encryption on laptops and tablets is good too, it's just a safe bet."


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