With summer coming to the Northern hemisphere, many people are starting to get ready for their vacations and adventures abroad. You will probably remember to pack your toothbrush, but have you considered preparing for the computer security risks associated with travel?

Attackers exploit the unknown when you’re traveling – you’re in new environments and unfamiliar situations, and they know it; but with a little preparation you can help protect your self from them.

There are two kinds of crime that will most likely affect you when traveling:

  1. Monetary fraud
  2. Confidence scams

It might help you to first understand the attackers motivations, and then a few tactics so you can protect yourself.


With monetary fraud, it’s obvious – the goal of the attacker is to steal your money. They can try to do this either straight from your account, or through buying something with your credit card. To achieve this, attackers will go after your passwords, account information, and credit card numbers.

To protect yourself from these attacks, the best practice is to turn on two-factor authentication for your accounts, and never use any one else’s computer, especially public computers such as those found at internet cafes (danger!). For more protection, set all of the passwords on your devices, and set up full disk encryption on your computer (see #12 on this infosec recommendations list for details). With full disk encryption, if your computer is lost or stolen, the thieves can’t get access to the files.

You might also want to be weary of ATMs. Security expert Brian Krebs wrote recently, “Why I Always Tug on ATMs”. This is another wise precaution you can take at home or abroad.


In travel related confidence scams, criminals will try to take control of your social media accounts. They will use them to pretend to be you, in distress, and try to convince your friends and family to send you money so you can get out of trouble.

To protect yourself from this kind of crime, take the same steps as you would for monetary fraud: turn on two-factor authentication and avoid other people’s computers. Most importantly, tell your social network, friends and family that you will never ask for help over the internet, and that you will call them if there is an emergency.


Besides these specific defenses, it is always good to make sure all of your software is up to date; do not to let any one plug in any devices to your computer (such as a USB thumb drive), and NEVER leave your devices unattended.

Nothing can can keep you 100% safe but if you fallow these tips you should be able to sleep a little better and enjoy your time away.

What else would you add? Let us know on Twitter.