Cyber Security While Traveling
BY: Nancy Nicklow, CPCU
Would you let anyone attach a device to your computer?
I was traveling through the Miami airport on the way to a family vacation recently. Airports are a known hub for hacking, because almost everyone connects to the free Wi-Fi and then does their confidential business transactions on their laptops, phone or tablet.
My husband and I were sitting at the counter at the airport restaurant, and there is a gentleman sitting two chairs down from us who is on the phone and the computer, clearly he is engaged in his work. As soon as he hung up his phone, he was approached by a very charismatic individual in his late 20’s. The guy had one of those personalities you are comfortable with and you feel like he could be a friend. He tells the business guy, that he left his phone is LaGuardia airport, and he bought himself and new iPhone, but it froze and according to Apple he must plug it into a computer and log into his iTunes account. Immediately, my reaction was don’t do it, don’t do it. The charismatic young gentleman, asked to plug his phone into the businessman’s computer and in return he would buy him a drink. The business person closed out of his work item and then let the young guy proceed. Unfortunately, the businessman does not have iTunes on his Dell computer, so they sat there chit chatting while he downloaded iTunes.
While waiting on the download, two other people sit down at the counter, and they start talking to the young fellow, who again proceeds to tell him his woes. They pulled out their computer and wow they have a MAC. He asks them if he can try their computer, if it does not work on the businessman’s computer since it may need to be an Apple computer to work. Well, sure enough after iTunes is downloaded on the businessman’s computer, and he logs into his iTunes account, with his phone plugged into the computer, it does nothing for his phone that remains completely dark. He then asks the couple with the Mac to help him if he buys them a drink. They comply and give him their computer and we go through the same process. Again, nothing happens to the dark iPhone.
All I could think is that I just witnessed 2 people hand over their computer and allow someone that they do not know to plug into their device. While the iPhone was plugged in the person could have been downloading malware onto their computer or opening and storing all of the files from the computer onto his phone. Any virus that was on the phone would now be in the computer, leaving the computer vulnerable. I don’t even allow my employees to plug their phones into the office computer for this reason. To keep you and your business safe, establish a policy and practice that no one is to ever attach anything into an office computer or allow anyone else to.
So in what seemed like an innocent conversation with a nice guy at an airport restaurant could very well have turned into a data breach for both of the folks who allowed the man to hook his device up to their computer.
Cyber threats do not take a vacation. So it is important to think about the safety of your data while you are traveling. Here are a few quick cyber security tips for travelers from the Department of Homeland Security:
What to do Before you Go:
- Update your mobile software
- Back up your information
While you are there (or at the airport):
- Stop Auto Connecting (for both Wi-Fi and bluetooth)
- Think before you connect to a public hotspot
- Think before you click on any links
- Guard your mobile device and keep it locked when not using
Keeping your data secure is extremely important for your financial future both personally and for your business (if you are a business owner). There are insurance policies that you can purchase that can help you deal with the situation should you fall victim to a data breach or identity theft. Personally, you can add the identity theft coverage to your homeowners insurance policy.
If you own a business, you should seriously consider purchasing a Cyber Liability Insurance Policy for your business
Nancy Nicklow is the owner President of Huff Insurance,a full service Independent Insurance Agent . We have been dedicated to Protecting Lifestyles™ since 1960. We offer a full array of Personal Insurance, Commercial Insurance and Life Insurance products. Call us at 410-647-1111