February 7, 2010 | The New York Times
You’re a smart traveler. You pack sunscreen and Pepto, locks for your luggage and a pouch to hide cash under your clothes. But what digital precautions do you take?
It’s hard enough to make sure the data you send and receive is safe when you’re at home or at work. But traveling brings a whole new set of hazards: from publicly accessible computers to unprotected wireless networks to crowded and pickpocket-plagued airports.
Luckily, preventing a digital wipeout while you’re on the road is reasonably easy and inexpensive. Here are some of the main things you can do to keep your data out of harm’s way while you wander the world.
PUBLIC COMPUTERS Computers in cybercafes and hotels are notorious for having malware on them, including “keylogger” programs that record users’ keystrokes and capture screenshots to collect log-in information. Many PCs do not have important software fixes or security programs with current updates. They could even have physical keylogging devices fitted onto the back.
Before using public computers, ask what security measures are in use. Better hotels and cybercafes maintain their computers properly and reset them after each user so unauthorized programs are removed.
If you get a blank look from the attendant, check for a security program icon at the bottom of the screen and click on it to see if it is up to date. If you do not see evidence the computer you are about to use is safe, try to find another place to go online.