Summer break will soon be upon us and whether you are traveling the world or staying in Berkeley, chances are the last thing on your mind is cybersecurity. Now is the perfect time to prepare your devices - and yourself - for safe globetrotting or stay-cationing this summer.
The Dangers of Free Wi-Fi
Open WIFI networks allow us to connect to the internet without eating into our data plans and are super easy and convenient. We assume they are safe because everyone else is using them, but information sent over open connections isn’t encrypted. In fact, everything sent is transmitted in plain text and vulnerable to being hijacked, which puts you at risk for fraud and/or identity theft.
Don't worry, there is good news, free WIFI doesn’t have to be off limits! Before you even start packing your suitcase:
- Update everything on your devices, including operating systems, web browsers, and apps. Hackers can exploit vulnerabilities in old versions of software
- Install anti-spyware, anti-virus software, and enable a firewall on your device(s)
- When connecting, use the UC Berkeley Virtual Private Network - available to all faculty, staff, and students through software.berkeley.edu - this will create a tunnel between you and the campus that will mask your location and encrypt the data sent from and to your device
- Lastly, if you must use an open network avoid accessing personal accounts or sending sensitive data. For example, don’t make online purchases or access bank accounts. Since the majority of people reuse username and password combinations hackers look specifically at these transactions to test those combinations on other sites.
These are just a few things you can do to protect yourself while away because you should be focusing on the beach and not a data breach.
For more information on securing your devices while traveling read our detailed pages here: