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Friday, December 15, 2023

Newsletter: Experts offer 5 tips so the cyber Grinch won't steal your fun


If you're among the revenge travelers this holiday season, by now you must have already booked your flights, prepped your travel wardrobe and gadgets and made all other arrangements as you head to your most-awaited destination. At the same time, you must be feeling a little antsy and worried about leaving the comfort and security of your home to see a new place. After all, this time of the year is when cybercriminals get their Grinch on. 

"Right now, people are already aware of different types of online scams and data breaches. So, it's understandable that some travelers would feel a certain level of anxiety when traveling. Outside the convenience and security of our homes, especially when we travel out of town or overseas, threats increase significantly. The environment changes drastically and presents unknown circumstances so this situation calls for a heightened sense of cyber security awareness and proactive practice of cyber hygiene on the part of the traveler," says Yeo Siang Tiong, General Manager for Southeast Asia at Kaspersky.
A recent study has shown that 66% of Filipinos are eager to travel with their families, suggesting that they intend to create special memories through travel. The local airport authority expects the holiday to draw at least 125,000 travelers per day starting mid-December 2023 until early January 2024.
"With loved ones in tow, Filipino travelers would definitely wish for nothing but happy and successful trips. Planning travels for months far in advance explains that. During travel though, it's inevitable to potentially run into issues like having a patchy phone or internet connection to immediately access services or help if needed. And this may prompt one to just connect to what's readily available but not exactly secure. That's why we keep on repeatedly reminding people about adopting cyber hygiene—even the basics and most common steps because they may not appear obvious and take a lot of practice until they develop into a habit. With the list below, I hope the Filipino travelers' anxiety would be eased and they can fully enjoy their trips this holiday season,'' adds Yeo.
1. Never leave your belongings unattended. Leaving your backpack unattended in the airport for a minute or two can result in it being physically destroyed by security guards. It’s not just about airports, though. Keep the things that matter to you (such as your phone, your laptop, and so on) with you, at all times, wherever you go. Yes, take all of your gear when leaving your hotel room. No, don’t leave your laptop on the table in the cafĂ© if you need to go to the restroom. It should go without saying that all your devices need to be password-protected and locked when not in use.
2. Make sure your devices are encrypted. Carrying all of your stuff with you all of the time doesn't mean your devices won't be stolen. Yes, using high-quality antitheft backpacks helps, but it doesn’t guarantee anything. We all know that the information on the device is usually worth significantly more than the device itself, so it’s the information you need to protect the most. That’s why you need to make sure that the entire storage unit in your device is encrypted.
Encryption is jumbling up data so it cannot be easily understood by those who are not authorized to do so. It's used to keep prying eyes away from data that is in transit between sender and receiver (data sent over the web like during an online banking transaction).

Devices with the latest versions of Android are encrypted by default, and so are iOS devices protected with a passcode or password. Click here to learn how to turn on full disk encryption, aka BitLocker, for Windows. And here to learn how to turn on the same — FileVault — for macOS.

Encrypting your data when using risky public WIFI (if it cannot be avoided) for online privacy (such as when storing files to a hard drive) and encrypting your browser when making payments (for safe shopping while on a trip, for example) are possible if your device is installed with a security protection like Kaspersky Premium. Promotions are currently running on Lazada and Shopee offering huge savings of up to 20% on selected Kaspersky consumer products from today until December 31, 2023. Included products are Kaspersky Standard, Kaspersky Plus and Kaspersky Premium.

3. Learn how to find bugs and hidden cameras and fool them. We've heard creepy stories about hidden cameras in Airbnbs. It’s still happening, and you never know who’ll be the next victim. And if you happen to be a businessperson, a politician, a human rights activist, or a journalist, someone may try to set up hidden microphones, or bugs, in your hotel room or rental apartment to eavesdrop on you.
Fortunately, finding hidden surveillance devices is not that hard. You’ll need a small tool, costs less than $50 (P2500) in online stores, that has a radio frequency scanner allowing you to find sources emitting electromagnetic waves, which wireless bugs and cameras usually do. The tool also has a combination of light-emitting diodes and a red glass to look for hidden cameras. A camera lens reflects light significantly better than other surfaces do so if you use this tool, you’ll see a bright red dot when you point light from diodes at the camera and when you look toward it through the red glass.
Also, if cameras that use infrared illumination are in the vicinity, you can spot them using your phone; cameras in mobile phones can detect infrared emission (but keep in mind that some phones, for example, iPhones, have too strong an infrared filter in their cameras for this trick).

These techniques won’t find hidden wired microphones, but at least you can easily fool them using the sound of water running from the tap or just some noise that can be produced using services such as Noisli. Background noise nearly ruins all recordings, making it safe (most likely) to communicate in your room.

4. Know how to spot a dual-view mirror. Remember those two-way mirrors from interrogation rooms in the movies? A person inside the room sees it as a mirror, but someone on the other side sees it as a window looking into the room. They’re rare, though. But they do exist, and if you unexpectedly find yourself deep in the plot of a spy movie in real life, now you’ll know how to protect yourself from such mirror tricks.
Usually, it’s rather easy: Place a finger on the surface of the mirror, and if there is a gap between the finger and its reflection, it’s a normal mirror, with a layer of glass above the reflective surface. If there is no gap, the mirror may be a two-way one — and there might be someone on the other side looking at you or recording you. Or it might be a normal mirror that has no glass above the reflective surface — such mirrors do exist (for example, in your car).
But it’s better to be safe than sorry, so you might not want to get undressed in front of such a mirror. The fix isn’t technical at all — you can just cover the mirror with some cloth, or at least avoid working with sensitive information in front of it.

5. Use wired mouse and keyboard. You already know it’s a mistake to use the publicly accessible PC in the hotel lobby, or one belonging to your host. You probably brought your own laptop with you, anyway. But if you use an external keyboard or mouse, you should also bring a trusted wired version with you. Known attacks allow another person either to sniff what you type or click using wireless peripherals or to inject clicks — even if the communication between your peripherals and the computer is encrypted. Other examples of peripheral devices we usually use when traveling include microphones and external hard drives.

You probably don’t travel with a wireless keyboard but remember to leave your wireless mouse at home as well. The touchpad in your laptop will do, and if you’re not comfortable with it, use a good old wired mouse.


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