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Holidays - protect yourself online

Protect yourself online: five tips for a relaxed and secure holiday

Published on 27-07-2023
The holiday period is upon us. Time to relax! But beware: you may be taking some time off, but cybercriminals never rest. Stay alert and protect your devices, even when on holiday! Take these five tips to heart to keep cybercrime at bay.
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1. Do not use public, non-secured Wi-Fi networks. Use your mobile data plan or log in using a VPN

Most trains, airports and cafés offer free Wi-Fi. This may sound appealing, but watch out: such networks are not secure! When you use free public Wi-Fi on your smartphone, tablet or computer without taking additional security measures, the data that you transmit and receive can be stolen fairly easily.

It is better to use your mobile data plan. If this is not an option, you should use a VPN. Read all about the use of VPN and find out how to download and install a VPN app for free. A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, encrypts your network traffic, making sure that you can log in securely. It also prevents hackers from accessing the data on your computer or smartphone. Install the VPN app on your smartphone, tablet and laptop now, so that your devices are properly secured even when you are travelling.

Click here to find out more about why public Wi-Fi is not secureExternal link

2. Only download apps from Apple’s App Store and Google Play

Some hotels and campsites offer a dedicated app. While these can be useful, be careful what you download! Take care not to download malware (MALevolent softWARE) and monitor carefully what information on your smartphone you give access to. Always read the privacy statement. Only use apps from Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

3. Be careful with what you share on social media 

 Resist the temptation to announce on social media that you are on holiday. While it is only natural that you want to show what a great time you are having, you are also announcing to thieves that you are not at home!

4. Switch off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi

If you leave Bluetooth switched on or connect to a public Wi-Fi network, cybercriminals will be able to connect to your smartphone or laptop.

5. Use your proof of identity wisely and only make a copy using the KopieID app

When checking into a campsite or hotel, you will be asked to produce proof of identity (ID), so that you can be registered as a guest. It is OK to hand over your ID briefly for this purpose. The campsite or hotel may also want to make a copy of your ID. You are under no obligation to consent to this or hand over a copy you made yourself. Only a small number of organisations are legally allowed to ask for a copy of your ID. These include government agencies, banks, civil-law notaries, casinos, life insurers and your employer.

If you want to hand over a copy of your passport, identity card or driving licence anyway, you should make a secure copy using the KopieID app. Hotels and campsites only need a few details from your ID. Cover up any details that the hotel or campsite does not need. For example, you can cover up your citizen service number and photo or make details illegible by crossing them out. In the watermark, write down details of the purpose that you made the copy for, such as the name of the hotel and the date. This way, you make sure that the copy can only be used for that purpose and prevent abuse of your ID. You can then print or send the copy that you made.

Reporting data breaches

If you are a UvA employee and your work laptop or work smartphone has been compromised or stolen, report this immediately to the ICTS Service Desk or on 020-5951402.

Last but certainly not least: consider leaving your smartphone and laptop at home. This contributes not just to security, but also to peace of mind. After all, you are on holiday to relax.

Look up the Security and Privacy section for more information about digital security.