Summer is approaching fast, and for many, that means vacation and travel. Whether going near or far, traveling can be a great way to get some relief from the day-to-day stresses of our busy lives. Don’t let device security cause added worry by not being prepared. Staying safe while on the move is easy if you follow a few key steps to keep your personal information private. Here is a checklist you can use to ensure your family and your devices are ready for secure travel.

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Before You Leave

  • Consider installing a password manager to store passwords to sites and apps you may need while traveling. Clear your browser history and cookies to remove remembered passwords.
  • Disable auto-connecting to open Wi-Fi.
  • Make sure your systems and apps are updated to ensure you have the latest security patches.
  • Using an RFID-blocking (radio-frequency identification) wallet or card sleeve can help prevent the discovery of personal information.
  • Bring your own device charger. Public charging stations and borrowed chargers can’t always be trusted.
  • Enable remote locking and device erase functions via Find my iPhone for Apple Devices or Android Device Manager for Android devices.
  • When not in use, disable Bluetooth, Near Field Communication, also called NFC (airdrop or mobile payment apps), and file sharing (Dropbox and Google Drive)

Pro-Tip: Disable fingerprint or facial recognition and set up your device so it can only be accessed with a password or PIN. Did you know that airport security may ask you to unlock a phone or device with facial recognition or fingerprint, but if it is locked with a password or PIN, they cannot require you to unlock it?

While You Are In Transit

  • Keep your devices and boarding passes with you at all times.
  • Avoid open Wi-Fi and be aware of network names with typos or extra characters. Only connect to trusted Wi-Fi or a personal Hotspot instead. If possible, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
  • Avoid location sharing and, ideally, don’t use social media. This could give potential thieves a heads-up on when you’ll be gone and when you’ll be back. You’re also revealing where you’ll be and when—and criminals could be there waiting for you.
  • Don’t talk about confidential or private information where others can hear.

Pro-Tip: If you are flying, put electronic devices, including smartwatches, on the belt last so you can keep them in view during the security checks.

While You Are There

  • Avoid in-room USB plugs. Use your own charger plugged into the wall.
  • Don’t overshare. Avoid posting about your vacation until you return home.

Pro-Tip: Never share your boarding passes on social media, and be sure to shred them and luggage tags when you return home. Did you know the scannable code on these contains Personal Identifiable Information (PII) like full name, date of birth, and the flight Passenger Name Record (PNR)? The PNR can reveal sensitive data like your passport number, medical issues, religious/health-based meal plans, e-mail address, and phone number.

When You Get Home

  • Scan your devices for malware using anti-malware (phones and tablets) or antivirus (laptop) software.
  • Consider changing your passwords and PINs.
  • Post about your vacation to your heart’s content, but if traveling with others, wait until they are home too before tagging them.

Pro-Tip: You can keep your details from being broadcasted by others by enabling the Facebook tag review.


Beth Rye is the Security Awareness Education Coordinator for Arvest Bank. She is responsible for ensuring that best practices for information security are shared to reduce human risk.