When we think about keeping ourselves protected when travelling, our minds may go straight to travel insurance above anything else. But did you know that tourists are actually more vulnerable to cyberattacks than those connecting to the web on their home or office networks? It makes sense, after all. Tourists are often accessing the internet through public networks or private networks with minimal security investments.
So how can tourists keep themselves safe against the ever-looming threat of cyberattacks? Keeping an eye out for any of these five cyberattack warning signs is certainly a good place to start.
1. Internet Cafes That Grant Users Control Panel Access
Although internet cafes can be awfully convenient to stumble upon when travelling, these spaces do come with their fair share of cybersecurity risks, most of which can be linked to using an unknown device to access your personal accounts. It’s always recommended that tourists bring their own devices to internet cafes and use a VPN service to ensure that their network connection stays as secure as possible, even when using an internet cafe network connection.
But what is a VPN, and how does this service keep your network connection secure? F0r those who are unaware, VPNs (or ‘virtual private networks’) essentially work by providing VPN users with an encrypted connection that they can use to access the web virtually anonymously. Using a VPN when connecting up to unfamiliar public or private Wi-Fi networks can help protect your user and device data when travelling abroad.
Another reason why you should preferably use your own device with a secure VPN network connection at internet cafes over using the cafe’s own computers, is simply because a surprising number of internet cafes allow computer users to access that device’s control panel and potentially even download and install software to that device. Simply put, you should never access your personal information on a computer with files or applications that may possess dubious origins. These files could easily be malware, which is just one reason why many cybersecurity experts are calling for the regulation of internet cafes.
2. Computers That Are Already Logged in Prior to You Using Them
Much like using a computer with suspicious files or applications installed, you should never use an unknown device that you haven’t had to manually log into. There are a few reasons for this, one of which includes that a previous user could’ve recently used that computer for malevolent purposes that can then potentially be traced back to you at a later date. If you’re not wrongfully accused, however, you can easily become the victim or target of a cyberattack too, as previous users may have placed remote surveillance or monitoring software on that computer to gather your personal data as you continue on with your user session.
If you do have to use a computer at an internet cafe, you should always expect to log into that device first. Tourists cannot afford to simply trust devices that have already been marked as logged in prior to your even using that device.
3. Personal Devices That Are Overheating Inexplicably
If you’ve found that your personal device can either overheat or perhaps even connect up to your data network or other networks without your authorisation, then there’s a strong likelihood that your device has been infiltrated by a malevolent third party or by any form of malware. If you do suspect that your phone or other personal device has been infected with malware or may even be being controlled by a malevolent third party that is working remotely, then you should take measures to log out of all of your personal accounts on that device, just to limit that third party’s access to your sensitive information and digital presence wherever possible.
It’s also important to note here that there are other signs that your phone or laptop may be compromised to look out for. For instance, if you’ve discovered that your phone or laptop battery has been draining at a more rapid rate than expected, then your device use may not be as private as you think.
4. Login Attempt Emails Sent to Your Inbox
Of course, if somebody does try to access your personal accounts after gathering some of your own personal or device data, then chances are it may take them a few tries. Not all hackers have developed the subtle art of password-cracking, and more often than not a little trial and error is required.
That being said, even if a third party is able to log into your personal accounts straight away, big tech companies like Google and Facebook still have security measures in place to send login alerts via email to your inbox to let you know whenever your account has been logged into from a new device or from a suspicious location. Taking time to read over these alert emails can help you differentiate between your own logins when travelling, and logins that certainly were not initiated by you. Keeping track of login attempts is a highly effective way of ensuring that your accounts stay as secure as possible and that you can change your passwords before the hackers beat you to it!
5. Contacts Receiving Emails or Texts From You
One surefire sign that your accounts have been hacked is simply that friends, family, or work contacts are suddenly messaging you to let you know that they’ve received suspicious emails or texts sent from your mobile number or email address. Unauthorised messages are generally always triggered by the presence of malware or even a rootkit that has been installed on your device to provide hackers with the ability to gain remote access over your device through a server system.
If you’ve discovered that your personal accounts have been sending unauthorised phishing messages to your contacts, the best thing to do is to simply alert any and all contacts using an additional social media account and then remove all the sensitive information that can be found on the compromised account to reduce risks of losing access to any more accounts or falling victim to digital fraud or identity theft.
So long as you maintain vigilance, use a VPN, and keep an eye out for any and all of these five cyberattack warning signs when travelling, chances are you can enjoy your time away with minimal fears of falling victim to malevolent software or hacking attacks.