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Fleeing the Freeze? Don't Leave Your Mobile Security Out in the Cold

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Around 1.7 million Brits are fleeing the cold weather and heading in search of sun this Easter.
This cold weather is depressing so it's understandable that so many of need some warmth to raise our mood. If you are joining the Easter exodus you have probably taken out travel insurance and locked up your house securely. However, many jetsetters may unwittingly comprise their personal - and possibly business - security in other ways.

When we go on holiday we are generally looking for some 'down time' but in the ever more connected world in which we live, this rarely involves switching off the phone (or other mobile devices) and leaving them at home. From secluded beaches to crowded city streets and from snow covered mountains to the Australian outback, the mobile device comes with us.

An article by Michael Rundle that appeared in July 2012 on The Huffington Post website reported that an estimated 67,000 mobile phones would be lost or stolen during the 2012 London Olympics. This is a staggering number and when you consider the amount of information phones now hold this statistic should give us all cause for concern.

Most phones are connected to many different websites all of which contain our personal details and many are also connected to (or contain) personal and work email accounts and documents. Cyber security is not just a plot in a James Bond movie, it's a real threat.

How to protect yourself?
So what can you do - and what should you do - on holiday to ensure that personal (and business) information isn't lost or stolen , whether from a hotel room or in a public place?

Start with the device
Your mobile device will come with an option to set a password, code or 'pattern' - use it. If your phone is lost or stolen then this is the first line of defence.

You should also password protect your voicemail (if this is an option). If there is a default password, then change it. The recent scandal of press 'hacking' phone messages was able to happen because these high-powered people and celebrities simply didn't change their default passwords.
Choose a password which isn't too easy to guess ("1-2-3-4"is not a good password. Neither is '"Pa55word") and please don't use the same password for everything.

'Bluetooth enabled'
Is your device 'Bluetooth enabled'? Do you need it to be? Bluetooth allows your device to 'speak' to other devices which are also 'enabled'. This is very helpful if you're transferring information from one device to another, but do you need it when you're on holiday? If you do then make sure your device has the 'Discoverable' mode disabled. This prevents your phone from being detected by others in the area scanning for Bluetooth devices.

Mobile Security Software
Most modern phones now are considered 'Smart'. If yours is 'Smart', then you should consider purchasing software to protect it - in the same you would with your own personal computer. There are viruses which can affect your mobile phone, but more worryingly there is software (called 'Malware') which will entice you to download and install it, and will then steal your personal information. Look for a tool which offers protection but also allows you to remotely 'wipe' the device should it become lost or stolen.

Location, Location, Location
If you are taking your mobile device away with you, then consider carefully where you use the device too. Advice to travellers says that we should be careful about 'carrying our wealth' when walking around unfamiliar places. This is also true of our phones. We've all seen it and most of us have done it; walked around a city with phone in hand as it 'navigates' us to our destination. We become oblivious to our surroundings and those who may be watching us, ready to target us.

If you're going to use your mobile device connected to a free WiFi service then be aware that these services are open to the public and therefore information transmitted over these networks can be easily intercepted and tracked. Using free WiFi is fine, but don't use it to check your bank account details or make credit card payments. The passwords and account numbers you enter may end up in someone else's hands.

Conclusion
There's lots of advice and tips we could give you related to traveling and staying safe and secure, but it all starts with being 'Security Smart'. Losing mobile phones is a major inconvenience these days but losing it and having lots of personal (and business) information taken is even more worrying. If your phone or table contained sensitive work data then you could find yourself making media headlines - and out of a job. Your business could be prosecuted for breaching data protection rules.
Don't become a statistic. Keep your mobile devices with you and be aware of your surroundings - and you'll be in for a great holiday and will arrive home relaxed and refreshed.