POSTED: Thursday, March 14, 2013 - 12:00am
UPDATED: Monday, April 1, 2013 - 4:09pm
(StatePoint) Spring travel can offer a much-needed cure for cabin fever. Whether you're planning to head to the closest national park or sunny beach, or you're trekking around the globe, there's no question that technology has made traveling easier than ever before.
What many travelers don't know, however, is that the technology they use in the vacation planning stages or on the trip itself can actually put them at risk for cybercrime or even identity theft. These days, keeping yourself protected means more than just wearing sunscreen.
"People can use mobile alerts to find flash sales on flights and resorts, and their PC to book vacations without the extra expense of a travel agent," says Marian Merritt, Internet safety advocate for Norton by Symantec, global leaders in online security. "But, in the excitement of planning a vacation, security can often be an afterthought."
Offers for free airline tickets on social media sites, phony ("phishing") emails about how to earn more frequent flyer mileage, or offers for discounted excursions are all ways cybercriminals try to lure you in so they can steal your personal information.
At first glance, any of these scams can look entirely legitimate, so before you click a link in an email or on a social network, take the extra step to verify the offer by visiting the company website.
One of the most used digital devices on vacation is the smartphone -- you use it to take pictures, search for the best places to eat and to find your way around with GPS. But, if your phone goes missing, it can be a bigger headache than the security line at the airport.
Merritt recommends installing security software like Norton 360 Multi-Device  before you hit the road, so if your phone or tablet is lost or stolen, you can remotely locate it or even temporarily lock it to prevent anyone from accessing it until you get it back.
If you're going to be spending time in the sand or out on an excursion, leave your phone locked up in the hotel room safe for the day. Not only is it likely to be a distraction from the fun, but bringing it everywhere increases your risk of loss or theft. And, considering all of the apps, photos and private information that live on your phone, losing it is probably worse than losing your wallet.
Finally, while it may be tempting to make purchases while lounging by the pool or to check your bank account balance while waiting at the gate for your flight, unsecured public Wi-Fi hotspots can be a virtual paradise for cybercriminals.
Let yourself really unwind and wait until you're on a protected network at home before conducting potentially sensitive activities, or consider using a virtual private network (or "VPN"), like Norton Hotspot Privacy  to surf securely and without leaving a trail of your personal data.
Make your spring vacation memorable for all the right reasons and don't let digital security risks stand in your way.