It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
The holidays are upon us. Do you know what that means? It is time for gingerbread houses, sleigh rides, and some quality family time.
Unlike last year, more Americans are comfortable hopping on a plane or road-tripping to celebrate the holidays.
But here is the deal, hackers are NOT relaxing during the holidays. Instead, they will use your vacation time as their window of opportunity to exploit data.
So, before you pack your bags, put on your cybersecurity hat. To get you started, here is a Cybersecurity Checklist: Holiday Travel edition.
Before you Leave the Office:
Let the IT department know you’ll be out of the office.
Of course, you want to let your team and higher-ups know that you’re going on vacation. But it is also a smart idea to tell the IT department. Your IT team can help you secure your workstation before you leave. Also, if a coworker needs access to your accounts, the IT team can help set up temporary credentials for them.
Set up an out-of-office email.
Don’t put too much information in your OOO email. Cybercriminals can use information in out-of-office emails to understand when you’ll be away from the office, taking advantage of a time when your accounts may be more vulnerable.
Instead, your email should only serve as a reminder that you’re away and that you’ll respond when you return.
Also, please don’t send automated responses to unknown senders and email lists. If you use Microsoft Outlook, here is a quick how-to guide:
1. Under Tools go to Automatic Replies.
2. Check the box that says, “send replies outside my organization”.
3. Click on “send only to my contacts”.
Secure your workstation.
Don’t write down your passwords and never leave post-it notes with your passwords lying around your workstation.
Log out of all devices, as well as websites and applications. Should anyone gain access to your devices, they won’t have a free pass to any sensitive information.
Finally, turn off and unplug every device you won’t be using.
Before your Leave the House:
Finish essential internet tasks before you go.
Vacations, especially holiday vacations, should be comfortable and fun! Download all the movies, music, and books you’d like to have access to before you leave for your trip.
Shut off devices that are staying at home.
Like securing your workstation, take the time to secure your home devices. If it’s not going on your trip or essential to the home, turn it off.
Let a trusted neighbor know you’ll be gone.
It’s never a bad idea to let a trusted friend know you’ll be away. They can keep a half-eye on your home if there is any suspicious activity.
Keep your trip on the down-low.
Never announce your travel dates on social networks. By sharing your agenda or location on social media, you are allowing criminals to keep track of where you are.
Post all your pictures after you get back from your trip. If you want to keep your loved ones updated on your whereabouts, we recommend you text them instead of using social media.
Only use password-protected Wi-Fi.
This tip is critical, especially if you’re traveling abroad. Other countries don’t have the same regulations on public Wi-Fi as the US.
One of our acquisitions, MRW Systems, wrote a whole blog about the dangers of free Wi-Fi – you can read it here.
If you absolutely must connect to the internet, use a secured network that requires a passcode to use it.
If staying in a hotel, place your devices in a safe.
This rule should go without saying, but you should not leave devices lying around your hotel. If you’re going out, put your unneeded device in the safe and lock it up.
Lastly, make sure you enjoy your holiday!