Technology

Think Twice About Free Wi-Fi

Hackers and ID thieves have new tricks to target travelers.

While you’re taking a break from work, there’s a good chance that fraudsters are working overtime, and their tactics are increasingly sophisticated. Crooks use details they’ve gathered about you—such as a friend’s name, a store you’ve patronized or the bank you use—to tailor their approach, says Sascha Meinrath, a cybersecurity expert at Penn State University.

A few precautions will thwart most attacks. Secure your smartphone and other devices with a password and an app that allows you to track its location and erase data. Regularly update the device’s operating system and apps you’ve installed and remove files and apps you no longer use. Be wary of how you connect to the internet. Public Wi-Fi networks and Bluetooth signals make it easy for hackers to see your activity. Use data from your cell-phone plan (especially when checking e-mail or financial accounts) and turn Bluetooth off when you’re not using it.

When charging your device, avoid plugging it directly into USB charging spots in airports, hotels or other public places. Hackers can use the connection to install malware or copy data from your device. Opt for a standard wall outlet, or use a USB data blocker (about $10) between your charger and the USB port to block the flow of information.

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