Before we jump into the essentials of how not to use your smartphone (or tablet), it’s probably a good idea to cover some travel-related dos and don’ts as we are guessing that a fair amount of you will soon be about to go on a vacation or trip somewhere, or are even reading this article while already sitting on a coach, train, or plane for traveling somewhere.
When getting ready to travel, your smartphone is generally the last thing you think about. And it means it’s just a smartphone — so as long as you have the charger packed, you’re all set, right? Well, not quite. Just a little preparation before you jet off can save you an awful lot of hassle down the line, and so it’s worth bearing some of these tips in mind before you hit the road:
Ensure that you have enabled a PIN or password:
This is a no-brainer. Make sure that some security code has to be entered to gain access to your device. This is your first step towards defense if someone gets hold of your smartphone or tablet, but many people don’t bother to implement it.
Make the PIN/Password kick in sooner:
Most smartphones enable you to increase or decrease the period of inactivity before a passcode is required to gain access. If you’re traveling, change your settings so that the passcode is required every time you wake the device from sleep. It might be mildly inconvenient to keep entering your passcode again and again, but it’s certainly more secure. And when your trip is over, you can reset it back to the way you prefer.
Make sure you Sync (or back up) your smartphone or tablet before you leave:
Even though your device is expensive, the information stored on the device is even more costly in many cases. If your device is lost, having a full backup on your computer at home can be a lifesaver. It also means that if your device is recovered or you get a replacement, you can restore your data to the device just how it was before you left.
Make sure your Operating System software is up to date:
Those days are gone when you buy a phone and expect to stay on the same system software forever. Nowadays, smartphones and tablets get system updates regularly. These updates frequently contain fixes to exploits and other security holes, so it’s essential to be on the latest version before traveling. This goes for new devices, too; many new devices sometimes sit in their boxes for months on end, meaning that they miss out on new system updates, so make sure that you check the manufacturer’s website and update your device if necessary.
Turn on features that will enable you to track your phone:
In the unfortunate event that your device gets mislaid, you want to make it as easy as possible to recover it. For example, if you have an iOS device, turn on the Find my iPhone feature. These types of features will allow you to track the device to within meters.
Remember: If you suspect someone has taken your device, do not try to retrieve it yourself if you locate it. Instead, inform local law enforcement/cops and rely on them to retrieve the machine for you.
Enable the Remote Lock or Wipe features:
Not all devices have these features, but if yours does, make sure that you enable them and understand how to use them. If you believe a criminal has your device in their possession, remote wipe it immediately; better that they only have your phone, and not your phone and your data as well. If you are lucky enough to recover your phone, you’ll be able to restore the backup you took before you set off on your vacation.
Don’t connect to Wi-Fi hotspots that do not have a password:
If a hotspot doesn’t have a password, it’s insecure. And you shouldn’t log into insecure Wi-Fi hotspots. See Lesson 6 for more information about Wi-Fi hotspots.
Turn off Auto-fill on your browser:
Auto-fill is a feature that many browsers have where your usernames and passwords are automatically filled-in when you visit websites that need a login. Turning this feature off means that if you need to use a Wi-Fi network, your login credentials will not be sent over the Wi-Fi automatically; you’ll automatically decide when and where your details are sent.
Check to see if your travel insurance covers your smartphone or tablet:
If not, consider upgrading your current cover if available. Remember that as well as covering your smartphone, many of these schemes also cover cameras, iPods, and other gadgets. As always, read the small print to understand what is entirely and isn’t covered.
Don’t conduct financial transactions over a Wi-Fi hotspot.
It’s safer to wait and do this from home. If you need to check to see how much money you have in your account, visit an ATM or look for your bank’s local branch. If you know you have bills to pay that will come due while you’re traveling, why not set them up to be paid on a particular day? Most online banking systems now allow you to automate bills on specified days of the month.
Never use your debit card online:
If you definitely, positively need to make a purchase online while you’re traveling and you have to choose between your credit or debit cards, never use your debit card. This is because of the significant difference between credit cards and debit cards; with credit cards, you can decline to pay any fraudulent charges that appear on the card simply by calling the credit card company and telling them that you did not make the purchase. They’ll then stop the charge and enter into a dispute with the seller on your behalf. This way, your current/checking account isn’t impacted and you won’t be out of pocket. However, purchases made on your debit card are drawn straight from your current/checking account immediately. You’ll still need to call your bank in order to get things fixed, but in the meantime, the money has already been taken from your account, and it might take some time before the bank decides to refund that money back to you. Typically that can take weeks, but in extreme cases can take months.
Let’s get physical:
It’s not all about digital security, though. When traveling with expensive gadgets and equipment, you also need to ensure that you take care of physical security. Thieves are always on the lookout for easy targets, so bear the following tips in mind:
- Never Act that it’s highly expensive and don’t ever show-off.
- Using Screenguard, so that it has filters on your screen which restrict the view of others so that only you can see the screen properly.
- Don’t leave your phone anywhere on the desk of train coach, or even in buses or any transport service for that matter.
- Don’t sleep while keeping your phone in an open place (relevant to the previous point).
So this is how you should take care of your smartphone or gadgets, and protect your privacy. We hope you’ve got enough information about the topic, so make sure you comment and share your views on it.