<p> Traveling can be risky business. The sights and sounds of a new or foreign city can be as distracting as they can be exciting.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s easy to get caught up in the moment and forget the risks and dangers that come with being an outsider in an unfamiliar place. Leaving a familiar environment for the unfamiliar is when travelers need to be the most vigilant in terms of keeping themselves and their possessions safe.</p> <p> The same thing applies to data. In the age of <a href="">smartphones</a> and tablets &mdash; basically pocket-sized computers &mdash; many people don&rsquo;t realize just how much sensitive information they&#39;re carrying in their pockets when they travel.</p> <p> If that device falls into the wrong hands, especially far from home, the consequences of a cavalier attitude toward data security can become painfully clear.</p> <p> That&#39;s why it&rsquo;s a good idea to take a few steps toward ensuring your data&#39;s safety before you leave home and while on the road.</p> <p> [<a href="">7 Safety Tips for Women Driving Alone</a>]</p>

Secure your devices

<p> Before you set off on your trip, make sure all mobile devices and laptops are as secure as they possibly can be.</p> <p> That means downloading and installing the latest software updates, encrypting hard drives and turning on the <a href="">passcode-lock feature</a> found on almost all smartphones and tablets.</p> <p> Users who take these steps will be better protected against theft and recently discovered software security holes. Even if their phones are stolen, their data will be protected.</p> <p> &quot;Be smart and password-protect your phone,&quot; said Brent Franson, vice president at in Redwood City, Calif. &quot;You also want to be intelligent about what you&#39;re putting on your phone and what you&#39;re taking pictures of.&quot;</p> <p> [<a href="">7 Hotel Safety and Security Tips</a>]</p>

Know your data

<p> It&#39;s also important to know what kind of information is stored on your smartphone or tablet in the event that it does become compromised, Franson said.</p> <p> &quot;The consequences [of data loss] can be fairly dramatic,&quot; he said. &quot;Someone who&#39;s intelligent [could] use that data for something as extreme as identity theft ... We really need to not be callous about what we digitize.&quot;</p> <p> Users of Apple devices should also download the Find My iPhone/Find My iPad app. In the event that a device is misplaced or stolen, the app can be invaluable in recovering your lost property &mdash; and can wipe the device clean of all <a href="">personal data</a> in case it&#39;s not recoverable.</p> <p> Most security apps for Android devices include comparable features.</p> <p> [<a href="">13 Tips to Keep Your Devices Safe While Traveling</a>]</p>

Be wary of open Wi-Fi

<p> Many people automatically connect to secured and trusted networks from mobile devices at home and in the office. But on the road, the safe connections we normally take for granted simply aren&#39;t available.</p> <p> Anyone using an <a href="">unencrypted Wi-Fi network</a> &mdash; be it in a hotel lobby, an airport lounge or a train station &mdash; is able to see everything the other users transmit. Worse, anyone can set up a Wi-Fi hotspot using a laptop or smartphone.</p> <p> Once sensitive data &mdash; email, social-network or bank login credentials, for example &mdash; is compromised, it could potentially be used to commit identity theft, financial fraud, extortion or blackmail.</p> <p> &quot;The likelihood of something happening [to your data] is very, very, very, very small,&quot; said Kelly Davis-Felner, marketing and program-management director for the Austin, Texas-based Wi-Fi Alliance. &quot;You are statistically more likely to have your wallet or laptop stolen or, for that matter, your credit-card number stolen when you hand it to the waiter at a restaurant.&quot;</p> <p> Nevertheless, there are several steps travelers can take to minimize that possibility. Many companies equip employee laptops with <a href="">VPN (virtual private network)</a> software that makes connections to company servers secure, even if the Wi-Fi networks they&#39;re using are not.</p> <p> &quot;VPNs provide quite a bit of protection for what you&#39;re transmitting over the air when you&#39;re doing things like banking or retailing,&quot; Davis-Felner said.</p> <p> For individuals who might not be part of a large company, but want the same piece of mind, there are several inexpensive VPN products for laptops, smartphones and tablets.</p> <p> [<a href="">Travel Trouble: Crooks Prey on Internet Hotel Connections</a>]</p>

Keep your details on the down-low

<p> It&#39;s not only hackers that travelers have to worry about. <a href="">Burglars may also be waiting</a> for you to hit the road.</p> <p> Social media makes it very easy for users to share everything, from what they had for brunch to where they&#39;re getting married.</p> <p> Twitter and Facebook are notorious for obnoxious oversharers, but the risks of sharing too much when it comes to travel are more serious than simply annoying friends.</p> <p> A status update like &ldquo;See you next month New York &mdash; Buenos Aires, here I come!&rdquo; tells the world that your home will be unattended for a specific time period. That&#39;s ample opportunity for thieves to rifle through your home as you relax on the beach.</p> <p> So get excited about your trip &mdash; but keep the details about it to a minimum until you get back.</p> <p> Once you do begin traveling, it&#39;s important to be aware of where you are and who&#39;s around you. If you&#39;re discussing or transmitting sensitive information, make sure no one&#39;s eavesdropping from across the room or looking over your shoulder.</p> <p> Threats to privacy often take a physical rather than digital form &mdash; that&rsquo;s especially true in airports, train stations and hotel lobbies.</p> <p> [<a href="">Beware Identity Theft While on Vacation</a>]</p>

Avoid public-use computers

<p> Internet cafes, as well as the business centers at hotels and convention halls, provide a convenient way to check email and log onto social media. But users of these services may encounter risks they aren&#39;t faced with on their own devices.</p> <p> Devices open for public use could contain <a href="">keystroke-logging</a> or screen-capture software that would let attackers clandestinely eavesdrop. Remember, if a device is freely available to you, it can also be used by individuals with ill intentions.</p> <p> &quot;There are lots of places where you can become a target of opportunity. Someone can set up an open Wi-Fi [network] or have a kiosk or have some kind of hardware thing,&quot; said Skylar Rampersaud, a senior security researcher with Immunity Inc. in Miami Beach, Fla.</p> <p> &quot;If you&#39;re at home, you wouldn&#39;t normally be using these things that you don&#39;t know or trust,&quot; Rampersaud said. &quot;With Wi-Fi and public computers, all the information that you send can be intercepted. So if you&#39;re logging into email or social-media sites, those credentials could be intercepted.&quot;</p> <p> Publicly accessible devices also have the potential to be infected with malware, so it&#39;s a good idea to not transfer data from a public machine back to your own. One solution is to designate CDs and USB flash drives that will be used only with public terminals and not used on your own machines.</p> <p> [<a href="">How to Keep Your Wi-Fi Safe While Traveling</a>]</p>

Mind the risks specific to your destination

<p> Gadget-carrying travelers will be presented with security hazards wherever they go, but some countries are much riskier than others.</p> <p> The likelihood of having your device compromised in China and Russia skyrockets when compared with Canada and most of Western Europe.</p> <p> If you&#39;re a business traveler in China, it makes sense to just <a href="">assume that the data on your device will be breached</a>.</p> <p> Before leaving for a nation with a high incidence of cybercrime, or one that has a habit of fully examining or confiscating mobile devices and computers at the border (like the United States), make sure that your laptop, smartphone or tablet is wiped clean of any sensitive or potentially embarrassing information.</p> <p> A better option might be to not take any personal device at all.</p> <p> &quot;If we go overseas, we get a cellphone to take with us to use there, and then not use again,&quot; Rampersaud said of Immunity employees. &quot;You don&#39;t want to accidentally take something confidential on your phone and then lose it, and then, if someone decides they want to take over the phone, you don&#39;t want to bring it back to your corporate [environment].&quot;</p> <p> In that same spirit, frequent travelers might also consider buying cheap &quot;clean&quot; laptops specifically for trips abroad.</p> <p> [<a href="">How to Get Through Airport Security Faster</a>]</p>

Don&#39;t let your devices walk away

<p> In addition to keeping devices digitally secure, it&rsquo;s important to remember to keep them physically secure as well.</p> <p> Cafes with Wi-Fi networks are often targeted by thieves looking to prey on absent-minded Internet users. If you have to walk away to use the restroom or to place an order, take your possessions with you. Given an opportunity, <a href="">thieves</a> will make off with expensive electronics in an instant.</p> <p> Even back in the hotel room, it&#39;s important to not let your guard down. Many hotels provide guests with a safe in the rooms or at the front desk. Use it.</p> <p> Most hotels have no-fault policies for lost or stolen items &mdash; meaning the hotel won&#39;t be liable &mdash; and there&#39;s not much worse than returning to your room to find that your computer and camera have seemingly sprouted legs and left.</p> <p> All the cyber-risks out there are enough to make anyone&#39;s head spin. But taking routine precautions, remaining wary and using common sense will go a long way toward to keeping you and your family safe as you log on away from home.</p> <p> [<a href="">5 Ways to Keep Your Gadgets Safe During Summer Travel</a>]</p>

7 Tips to Keep Your Data Safe on the Road