Five Tips to Stay Safe on Social Media While Traveling

Oversharing your travel plans can put you, your colleagues, your corporate data systems, your property and even your loved ones at risk. Similarly, announcing to the world that your home is vacant obviously increases the odds of a break-in, so what happens to your corporate laptop or personal devices containing corporate data that you leave at home?

Furthermore, showing people what valuables and electronic devices you are carrying may put those items at risk. You may even expose yourself to an increased risk of being kidnapped in exchange for a ransom from your employer. Finally, social media posts can also be used to facilitate identity theft and execute social engineering attacks against businesses.

Five Social Media Safety Tips for Travelers

It is imperative for chief information security officers (CISOs) to communicate to their staffs and organizations the potential for improper social media use to compromise corporate plans, personnel and assets. Below are five tips to help social media users stay safe while traveling.

1. Do Not Share Flight Information

Do not post flight information online — ever. If you must share it, at least wait until after you have returned home from the trip. Sharing your travel information puts your home and office at increased risk of theft. And if crooks steal personal computing devices you use for work, your company’s IT systems could be exposed as well.

Cybercriminals use personal data such as flight information to craft more effective spear phishing scams as well as other social engineering campaigns against you and your colleagues. They can also use this data to fake a kidnapping and demand ransom payments from friends and relatives. That might sound a little far-fetched, but this type of virtual kidnapping has reached epidemic levels in certain areas.

2. Keep Your Plans to Yourself

If you want to ask friends for advice about sights to see at a location that you plan to visit, ask them, but do not note that you already have plans to travel to that location. You may seek recommendations about what to see in New York for a trip sometime in the spring of 2018, for example, but do not post specific dates on which you plan to travel. This information could also expose you or even your work colleagues to phishing scams.

3. Make Meet Ups Private

Ask people directly about meeting up by messaging them. Do not make public social media posts. Remember, Facebook posts that are viewable to friends of friends may be visible to people who should not see them.

4. Wait to Post Vacation Pics

Do not post information about your trip until you are home — that goes for text, photos and video. Of course, the urge to share these items is strong, but does the world really need to know that your house is empty and available to be burglarized? Similarly, do not “check in” to locations far from home.

5. Secure Your Accounts

Make sure your social media accounts are secure before you go on vacation. You may be using suboptimal internet connections while away from home, so take whatever steps you can before you travel to protect your accounts. If you do use insecure Wi-Fi while on vacation, make sure to take proper precautions.

Think Before You Post

The bottom line is that you should always think about what you put on social media before you post it. Furthermore, understand the network from which you are posting. Could the information you are sharing help cybercriminals target you or your work colleagues? Are you using a network that is sufficiently secure?

With these social media best practices, you can help protect yourself, your loved ones and your company while traveling, while contributing to a more secure online community for all.

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Joseph Steinberg

Cybersecurity Expert and CEO, SecureMySocial

Joseph Steinberg (CISSP, ISSAP, ISSMP, CSSLP) is a cybersecurity thought leader and technology influencer. He writes a column on cybersecurity for Inc., and previously did so for Forbes. He is also the editor of (ISC)2’s official textbook covering the material on its advanced security management (CISSP-ISSMP) exam, and has been calculated to be one of the top 3 online cybersecurity influencers worldwide. Joseph has worked in the information-security industry since the mid-1990s, and is presently serving as CEO of SecureMySocial, which recently brought to market the world’s first system to protect businesses and their employees by warning people in real time if they are making inappropriate social-media posts. Earlier, he served for a decade as CEO of cybersecurity firm, Green Armor Solutions, and for half-a-decade in various senior capacities at Whale Communications (acquired by Microsoft). He is the inventor of several cybersecurity technologies widely-used today; his work is cited in well-over 100 published US patents.