LIFESTYLE

Ways To Stay Safe Online When You're Travelling

For starters: don't post photos of your boarding pass on social media.

09/05/2017 16:43 SAST | Updated 14/05/2017 09:16 SAST
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Think before you share - it's particularly important to be careful when you're travelling.

Many of us are guilty of oversharing on social media but when it comes to holiday time, you risk setting burglars up for temptation, particularly if you like 'checking in' to airports and exotic locations on Facebook.

It's no secret there are thieves who trawl social media looking for easy targets. In the US, 78 percent of burglars check social media for a potential targets location.

And many travellers do little to make sure their browsing is safe when using free WiFi in public places such as airports or cafes. A recent study found 79 percent of people still don't use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when they go on public WiFi. A survey by NordVPN revealed a staggering 35 percent of respondents didn't know that it's dangerous to shop online on a public network.

Marketing and social media expert Fleur Filmer told HuffPost Australia the best way to look at safety online is to look at it from an offline perspective.

"Let's say we're in 1990. We didn't write into our local newspaper and ask the editor to post an advertisement advising all who read it that we were going to be away. We also didn't give the editor our address. We wouldn't have done that would we? Not even if it cost us no money at all. We're too clever for that, right?" Filmer said.

AntonioGuillem via Getty Images
A survey recently found many people have no idea it is not safe to do online shopping on a public network.

"Fast forward to 2017. We're excited to be on holidays, we love posting information about ourselves and our family, we are addicted to the 'likes' and views we get of our posts. We seem to have lost all common sense and we are virtually rolling out the red carpet for thieves to come into our homes."

Filmer said there are several things you can do to stay safe online when you're travelling.

"Set all of your social media accounts to PRIVATE. Each channel has it's own way to do this and it is very important to learn this security hack for everyday but especially before a holiday or trip," Filmer said.

"Even if your account is set to private, you are able to make any individual post PUBLIC. Public means public."

NicolasMcComber via Getty Images
Going on holiday is a good time to go through your social media friends list, see who is really your 'friend' and whether you want them to know where you are.

Filmer believes travelling is the time people should do a proper security 'audit' of their social media accounts.

"In my opinion as a marketer, this exceptionally important information should be provided by travel agents, online travel sites, transport companies and airlines in their travel guides and information for travellers," Filmer said.

Filmer's Tips:

  • Don't add your home address to any posts or information areas on your social media accounts.
  • Don't add 'friends' who you don't know well or whom you've never met.
  • Don't post a count down to your next trip online.
  • Don't post shots of your boarding pass with details visible.
  • Save all of the images of your holiday to a personal album and post it only after you return home.
  • Have a friend stay in your home while you're away so that it isn't empty.

Travellers are also warned not to post photos of their boarding pass online. Qantas has reported some frequent flyers have had points stolen. Boarding passes can be decoded by simply taking a screenshot of the pass and enlarging it.

Andrew Bret Wallis via Getty Images
Don't be tempted to check in at the airport and share your location and destination with your social media network.

The boarding pass code and the travelling date can be used by a stranger to change a seat or a flight, while the check-in is still active.

Nick FitzGerald, Senior Research Fellow at ESET, recommends holidaymakers just refrain from oversharing.

"You might think you're only sharing with 'friends', however there might be friends of friends and even strangers with ill-intentions following your posts. Don't share information on social media that you wouldn't share with a stranger," Fitzgerald said.

"Never disclose information that could be used to find out where you live, expose personal and travel details, or announce when you are going away for an extended period of time."

Hinterhaus Productions
If you can't resist posting holiday photos online, don't do it in real time.

Fitzgerald's Tips:

  • Checking-in to your airport or hotel may be tempting, criminals only need to look back at previous posts with location tags or find a rough idea of where you live from a quick Google search to start piecing together where you live.

  • Remove EXIF data: Many pictures uploaded to the internet include information on when and where the photo was taken and on what kind of device. This information is known as EXIF data, and whilst some social media sites, including Facebook, strip this data automatically once an image is uploaded, many do not. Any tech-savvy burglar will be able to find out where the image was uploaded through this data.

  • Don't post in real-time: Even with EXIF data expunged, that photo with the Eiffel Tower in the background might be a bit of a giveaway that you are away for several days.