National Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2019 – OWN IT

By Laura Baker, CyberWyoming Co-Founder, #BeCyberSmart

Don’t forget to register for the Wyoming Cybersecurity Symposium on October 23 at Little America in Cheyenne. Register at

The theme this year for the National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is Own It! Own It means that internet-based devices are present in every aspect of our lives. Constant connection provides opportunities and cyber threats. Owning it helps you understand, when you connect, how to keep your personal information safe and secure. Our first topic for this month is Cyber Safe Travels. Enjoy!
– Laura

Cyber Safe Travels

When we go through the Made Safe in Wyoming checklist with small business leaders, we often ask “Does your laptop travel?” or “Do you allow thumb drives?”

Why do we ask these questions? Because it leads to cyber hygiene questions like:

  1. Does your laptop have any sensitive or proprietary information on it?
  2. Do you use free wi-fi (like at the hotel) when you connect to work?
  3. Do you encrypt your laptop with Windows 10 Professional’s encryption capabilities?
  4. Do you trade information with your accountant on a thumb drive? If so, is it encrypted?

There are so many simple things you can do to protect yourself while traveling. First, use your personal hotspot on your phone instead of public wireless. Second, turn on your laptop encryption feature and also use that same feature to encrypt any thumb drives that you may use while traveling. Third, at the very least, encrypt files containing sensitive data with a password.

However, DHS’s National Cybersecurity Awareness Month has some additional tips you may want to use, even when traveling for personal. I’ve heard stories about traveling overseas and customs takes a copy of all of your electronics. The thought is that they may be looking for intellectual property. (Makes you want to get a burn phone and not take a laptop when traveling overseas.)

Here’s what DHS and the Own IT program recommend:
1. Many of us use our phones as cameras and have a lot of pictures we don’t want to lose. Own IT recommends that we back up our contacts, photos, and other mobile device data before you leave just in case you have to factory reset your phone.
2. Make sure you have the latest antivirus software before you go.
3. Set your devices to auto patch (auto-update) your software while you are traveling.
4. Make sure you lock your devices. PINS are not secure, according to our friends at the FBI that speak at Wyoming conferences, so be sure to use a password or biometrics to lock your computers and mobile devices.
5. Be sure to enact two factor authentication on your accounts (especially your financial accounts) before you travel. The likelihood of a hacker getting both your bank user ID and password plus your mobile phone is low.
6. Make sure none of your devices are set to auto-connect to available wireless networks.
7. Wait to post your adventures to social media. Criminals do target people on social media and you don’t want them to know where you are and what you are doing in real time. It just gives them more validity when they try to scam you.
8. And of course, never leave your devices unattended in public places. I was walking through the airport the other day and saw two cell phones plugged in to charge but unattended.

For more information, download the Cybersecurity While Traveling PDF and use it as your checklist before you go.


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