Dayton Daily News

Traveling today is fraught with a cyberworld of dangers

- D.L. Stewart Contact this columnist at dlstew_2000@yahoo.com.

As winter drones on, wife and I are thinking about getting out of town for a few days of warmth and sunshine. Florida, maybe. Or Arizona. Or just about anywhere we can walk around in shorts and flip-flops. But I’m not sure it’s worth the risk

We’re willing to gamble on missed flight connection­s, lost luggage or winding up in a hotel room that has suspicious stains on the bedspread. But now the latest travel hazard apparently is digital danger. Because according to a warning this week in The New York Times, “Travelers are a favorite target of hackers.”

Leaving home always has had inherent dangers, of course. And, as savvy travelers, we make sure to take appropriat­e precaution­s, such as putting a stop on our newspaper and mail delivery, making sure all the doors are locked and leaving a light on in the living room to fool burglars. But apparently hackers are a lot smarter than burglars and they’re just waiting for us to pack our bags so they can start stealing our Social Security numbers.

To help us guard against that, The Times consulted a bevy of experts who provided multiple suggestion­s, hardly any of which I understood.

One expert, for instance, said we needed to use a juice-jack protector attached to the end of our USB cord to protect against data skimmers when we plug them into a public charging station. I’m sure that’s very important, although I have no idea what a juice-jack is or why it needs protecting.

The vice president of a cybersecur­ity consulting firm said we need twofactor authentica­tion and should make sure our laptops were encrypted before we take them with us. I don’t know how to encrypt my laptop; there are days when I’m lucky to get it to turn on. Perhaps we should leave our unencrypte­d laptop at home. But then there’s the risk that any burglars who aren’t fooled by the light in the living room will break into our house and steal it.

The president of a risk management company said travelers should use two-factor authentica­tion and create a “digital persona,” including setting up a disposal phone number and a “throwaway” email address.

I have enough trouble rememberin­g my undisposab­le phone number and permanent email address.

In the event none of those is enough to stymie the hackers, another expert advised buying an individual cybersecur­ity insurance policy.

By the time we get done paying for trip cancellati­on insurance, flight life insurance and car rental insurance, there’s not much left in the travel budget for cybersecur­ity insurance.

So maybe we’ll just throw another log on the fire, put on our shorts and flip-flops and huddle up under a blanket until May.

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