How to protect your online self when traveling to the Olympics

If you’re travelling to the Olympic Games, or there already, here are a few tips that will help you protect your identity and important information.

Rio Olympics (photo credit: Courtesy)
Rio Olympics
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Living in Israel and working at LogDog, an online security company, I’m constantly thinking about the threats we face, both in the real world and online. Most people around the world don’t have this same perspective, however, and this is true even when they travel abroad.
With the Olympic Games in full swing, travelers from around the world are flocking to the country of football (or soccer), açaí, and beautiful beaches. Sports enthusiasts are flooding Brazil, each coming to support their country's top athletes in winning some Olympic gold – and, between games, soak up some of that electrifying atmosphere that Rio is known for.
But unfortunately, events that draw large crowds, draw criminals as well, including cybercriminals and identity thieves. The masses of tourists descending upon the city are lucrative targets for these criminals who can exploit victims’ stolen identities long after they leave Brazil.
If you’re travelling to the Olympic Games, or there already, here are a few tips that will help you protect your identity and important information from exploitation while you’re there – and long after you’re safely back home.
Don't Use Public Wi-Fi Or Unsafe Networks
One of the most common methods criminals use to target travelers is by setting up their own free, unsafe, public Wi-Fi networks, hoping to draw travelers to log on. A privately controlled network can be set up to capture data and credentials, push malware to connected users, and more.
●    Never connect to a public Wi-Fi network that your device simply appears to “pick up”
●    Be on the lookout for similarly-named networks, as a criminal may set up a Wi-Fi network with a name that closely resembles a legitimate network on the same range (for example, “hotel_1” instead of “hotel”)
Only Visit Sites With HTTPS in the Address
The unfortunate truth is that even “trustworthy” Wi-Fi networks can't be trusted. A 2015 report by Cylance revealed that hotel routers are easy targets for hackers who use critical vulnerabilities to snoop on hotel network traffic. They can steal passwords and emails and access any other unencrypted device activity on the network.
There's an easy way to keep yourself safe on public Wi-Fi: only access sites with addresses that start with HTTPS. You are automatically protected, as these sites are secured with SSL. SSL, or “Secure Socket Layer”, is a communication method that encrypts all communications between a user and a server making sure that a snoop on the network will not gain access to the data. Every time you communicate with a website with an address headed by “https://” and a padlock appears – you’re automatically using SSL! Most important sites, such as Gmail and Facebook, use SSL by default.
Beware of Social Engineering
Another way cybercriminals try to infect your machine with malware is through social engineering – using psychological tactics to fool you into opening a malicious file or showing you a phishing page.
For example, when you access a Wi-Fi network and a portal screen comes up which requires you to install software – it may be a malicious page that was injected by the hacker to get users to install their malware. Look for signs that something is suspicious on web pages you visit, and do not divulge credentials if you suspect anything.
Use Different Passwords For Each Login, Such As Hotel Account, Bank Account, Etc.
It's just a really good idea to use a different password for each of your accounts. If somehow a criminal captures your password for one site, none of your other accounts will be compromised. Recycling passwords has been proven to be a major cause of complete identity theft after credentials were stolen from just one website.
Keep Tabs On Your Online Payment History To Avoid Credit Card Theft
When you return home, keep an eye on credit card and banking activity to make sure none of your accounts have been compromised and no criminal is exploiting your data for financial gain.
For extra precaution, don't log into your credit card or banking websites while travelling. Instead, take your bank up on their offer (if suggested) to set up a notification service that will alert you of financial transactions. This allows you to keep an eye on your accounts without proactively logging into your bank and credit card issuer’s websites.
Be Cautious and Have fun!
The Rio Olympics are an exciting, and already, record breaking games. The most important point of visiting the games is to have fun, and these online security precautions will go a long to help ensure that your Olympic memories will remain positive, and not filled with frustration associated with identity fraud.
Enjoy the games, stay safe, and good luck to the athletes you support!
About the Author
Uri Brison is the CEO and Founder of LogDog, a leader in guarding users’ online accounts from hacking.