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In-Depth: Tips to stay cyber safe during holiday travel

Posted at 5:34 PM, Nov 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-22 19:34:09-05

SALT LAKE CITY — With holiday travel causing huge crowds across the country, Salt Lake Community College Associate Professor of Cybersecurity Rod Buhler offers tips for safe cyber-travel.


  • 1. Before traveling, update all operating systems with virus protection.
  • 2. Freeze credit with the credit bureaus.
  • 3. Don’t use public WiFi: Free Wi-Fi access can be very appealing for travelers, but is also particularly vulnerable to security issues. Better to tether off mobile phones and avoid unencrypted WiFi networks. Ask hotels about security protocols before connecting to the internet. Avoid accessing personal accounts or sensitive data while connected to that network.
  • 4. Beware of Juice Jacking, which is the process of hacking into a smartphone or other smart devices via a compromised USB charging port. This happens when charging smartphones at a public charging booth located at airports, hospitals, coffee shops, etc.
    • a. Files that can be hacked through compromised USB charging ports include photos, contacts, notes, messages, videos, private folders, and music.
    • b. Prevent by using a hardware data lock or a portable power stick.
  • 5. Beware of Bluejacking which is used for sending unauthorized messages to another Bluetooth device. Bluetooth is a high-speed, but very short-range wireless technology for exchanging data between desktop and mobile computers and other devices.
    • a. A nearby Hacker sends a text message to get users to reveal personal information without going through mobile carriers.
  • 6. Bluesnarfing involves the theft of data from a wireless device having a Bluetooth connection – which could include information from contact lists, calendars, emails, or text messages.
    • a. This theft typically occurs without the user’s knowledge, and so may go on indefinitely unless discovered.
    • b. Keeping phones or other mobile devices in “invisible” vs “discoverable mode,” or turning off Bluetooth when not in use affords some measure of protection against Bluesnarf attacks.
  • 7. Use Strong Passwords: On mobile devices and online accounts. NEVER reuse passwords. Passwords should be about 15 characters, not be found in the dictionary, contain as least 1 number and special character.


  • 1. Guard against Juice Jacking at airports. Bring AC power brick that plugs into an outlet.
  • 2. Don’t trust public WiFi. (Don’t connect to financial institutions over WiFi.) Assume someone is watching.
  • 3. Use a personal hotspot connection.
  • 4. Turn off unneeded wireless features - Bluetooth, WiFi. Criminals can use those to track users through airports.
  • 5. Use credit cards,not your debit cards.
  • 6. Change passwords.
  • 7. Remove sensitive data before leaving home.
  • 8. Ensure security is current on devices;
  • 9. Guard against theft. Don’t leave devices unattended.
  • 10. Leave laptops, tablets, phone, personal identification (some credit cards) at home.