SUMMERTIME: LATHER ON THE SUNSCREEN, HYDRATE, AND PRACTICE EFFECTIVE CYBERSECURITY

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Ahhhh, summer: the season of beaches, blockbuster movies, BBQs, and sunburns. As Persephone warms the Northern Hemisphere before she has to return to the underworld, many people will take advantage of the weather and go on vacations. In preparation for some much-needed relaxation, travelers will scope out places to visit, make a list of what to eat and drink, and pack traveling essentials. However, to-be vacationers should also consider cybersecurity issues while traveling, according to the FTC.

The Federal Trade Commission recently recommended some security tips to help vacationers protect their privacy and security while traveling this summer. 

The FTC advised travelers to not assume that public Wi-Fi hotspots are secure. While using these hotspots, “send information only to websites that are fully encrypted, and avoid using mobile apps that require personal or financial information,” the FTC said. 

For travelers that use Wi-Fi often, the FTC recommended using a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which creates an encrypted connection between devices and the VPN provider’s network. However, this security tip may not be of much use for travelers going to China in 2018. The Chinese government recently ordered state-run telecommunications companies to block access to VPNs by Feb. 1, 2018. 

In addition, the FTC recommended updating device software to protect against malware threats. Malware includes viruses, spyware, and other unwanted software that gets installed on devices without user consent. The threats posed by malware are significant and global in scope, as evidenced by the malware attack labeled Petya that came on the heels of the crippling WannaCry ransomware attack. Malware can make internet-connected devices vulnerable to cybersecurity threats and criminals use malware to steal personal information, commit fraud, and send spam emails, the FTC said. 

While spam emails may be annoying, all consumers should also be on the lookout for more sinister phishing emails that disguise themselves as legitimate emails. According to security and privacy company MediaPro Inc., consumers should keep an eye out for misspellings, unexpected emails from unknown addresses, and subject lines with “too-good-to-be true offers,” among other things. 

Turns out that in summertime the living ain’t so easy. 

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