Spring Break with PHL: Cyber Security Tips

Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) is seeing an uptick in passenger numbers with spring break season underway. Although travelers may have a long checklist of items to bring on their trips many probably will not include cyber security in that list. According to a 2018 survey by Morning Consult on behalf of IBM security, 70 percent of travelers engage in high-risk cyber behaviors while traveling. The study also found that 40 percent of people believed they may be at risk to cybercrimes while traveling to their destination.  

“Thanks to advances in technology, the world is becoming increasingly more connected via the internet,” said PHL’s Chief Information Security Officer Damian Oravez. “This convenience also brings increased digital risks such as data theft and malware. Cybersecurity best practices provide effective defenses for securing your devices and personal information from threats.”  

Here are some cyber security tips from Oravez for travelers to keep in mind this spring break:  

  • Keep Devices Locked - Keep mobile devices such as smart phones, tablets, and laptops locked with a strong PIN or password.  Set the devices to auto-lock after a short period of time.  Never leave a device unattended in a public space.
  • Apply Updates and Security Patches - A good defense against malware and viruses is to keep devices updated with the latest security software, browser, and operating system.  Use automatic updates where possible as well as antivirus.
  • Use Multi-Factor Authentication - Enable Multi-Factor Authentication on services like banking, email, work accounts, and social media to ensure only the authorized user can access the service.
  • Stop Auto Connect - Some devices will automatically seek and connect to available wireless networks or Bluetooth.  Disable this feature so that you can actively choose when to connect to a safe network. For Apple devices, consider turning off Apple Airdrop.
  • Physical Security - Consider a privacy screen and webcam cover.
  • Work Devices - Check in with your organization’s IT, Infosec, and/or HR teams to ensure you are employing your organization’s best practices and policies for traveling securely with work devices.  

When connecting to a public and unsecured access point, practice good internet hygiene by avoiding sensitive activities (like banking) that require passwords or credit cards.  Personal hotspots are often a safer alternative to free Wi-Fi. Check that websites are using [https://]https:// when online shopping or banking. 

Here are some more tips: 

  • Bring Your Own Charger to the Airport and Hotel - It’s a good idea to bring a personal charging device for devices. 
  • Scrutinize WiFi Names - Ensure you are connecting to the correct WiFi name.  Be aware of network names with typos or extra characters.  Ask for assistance from airport or hotel staff if you are unsure. 
  • Posting Location Details - Be aware that social media posts including destination updates like pictures and travel details are lucrative information for criminals, who may use this information to break into hotel rooms or even your home to steal valuables while you are away.
  • Back Up your Information - Before traveling, set your devices to back up your contacts, photos, financial information, videos and other important data to another device or cloud service in case a device is lost, stolen, or compromised and you have to reset it to factory settings.
  • Encryption - Ensure devices are encrypted before heading out the door.  Encryption ensures that data cannot be accessed in the case of a lost or stolen device. 

Media Contacts

Christine Ottow
Director of Strategic Communications
[email protected]
Heather Redfern
Public Affairs Manager
[email protected]

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