How to Keep Your Mobile Devices Secure While Traveling

For many, traveling abroad is a positive, life-changing experience. Today’s modern traveler has the advantage of using sophisticated mobile devices to plan intelligently for smooth travel. As devices become more powerful, they also become more helpful. From planes to trains, coffee shops to hostels, modern international travelers expect to have access to the Internet just about anywhere. These amazing devices are incredibly convenient when you’re on the go, but travelers also need to be aware of their devices’ vulnerabilities.

Today’s highly sophisticated devices hold an incredible amount of information—much of it sensitive. Protecting your device, along with its sensitive information, takes a bit of technological know-how and common sense. When traveling abroad, these five simple but effective steps can help make sure your device stays protected.

Understand Your Security Settings

Your device’s first line of defense is its security settings. Many of the out-of-the-box security settings for Android, iPhone, and LG smartphones are highly effective. For instance, LG smartphones are now equipped with a kill switch feature that renders the phone almost unusable if stolen. Your data can be remotely wiped from the phone, and the phone can be permanently locked. It’s important not to get too creative when changing security settings, as it may make your device more vulnerable to hackers.

In addition, it is important to regularly update your software. Barring a flood of negative reviews, new updates typically help patch up any security vulnerabilities in software. Check the manufacturer’s website for updates a week before leaving for your trip.

Use Strong Passwords

When traveling internationally, you’re not in Kansas anymore. Although your favorite song, last name1, or 1-2-3-4-5 may be fine in day-to-day life (although not really), your password needs to be particularly strong when traveling abroad. You will be on the go, packing/unpacking, and often overwhelmed with new experiences. The potential to lose your device is, most likely, slightly higher than at home. If it is lost, it’s vital that your device stays secure. A strong password, featuring at least eight characters with a mix of letters and numbers, should thwart anyone from accessing your phone.

Be Wary of Unencrypted Public Wireless Networks

Unencrypted wireless networks are open to the public and do not require any authentication or password to log in. Hackers have been known to create these networks, allowing them to view the activity of unsuspecting victims. Encrypted networks, typically found at coffee shops and hotels, are considerably safer networks. It is also a good idea to turn off your Wi-Fi when you’re not using it. Not only will you cut battery consumption, you will avoid inadvertently logging on to an unencrypted network.

Turn of Autofill and Cookies

To protect yourself if your mobile device is stolen or lost, set up your device strategically to minimize the amount of information available. Autofill and cookies, in contrast, do the complete opposite: they provide sensitive information with no effort. Although these settings are convenient, they should always be turned off when traveling abroad. When passwords, search history, and (gasp!) credit card numbers are freely given through autofill and cookies, you are inviting disaster. For added security, a bit of inconvenience is acceptable.

Be Responsible with Your Device

Along with the technological measures you can employ to increase security, the other part of protecting your device comes down to mindfulness and common sense. When traveling internationally, it’s always important to understand your surroundings. Do not leave your device unattended at a restaurant or charging at a charging dock. While 99 percent of the time it may be fine, losing your device or having it stolen while traveling internationally can seriously impact your ability to plan, stay in touch, and research areas.

When traveling internationally, it is crucial to take the necessary precautions to guarantee your personal safety. Protecting your mobile device is no different. With these five simple practices, you can maximize the security of your device and protect your personal information.