Protecting Your Devices and Yourself While Traveling…There are Apps for That

Traveling with mobile devices poses risks that you might not have at home. For example, one in seven respondents in a recent survey by Absolute Lojack said their mobile device went missing while they were traveling.

Identity theft, phishing and viruses are other ways travelers can be hacked. Fortunately, there are mobile apps designed to protect you from these potential threats while on the road. Here are some examples.

Missing Device

A free Find My iPhone app allows you to use any iOS device to find the missing device via iCloud. You can also lock the device, send it a message with a contact number, and wipe it clean of data. If you retrieve your device or buy a new one, you can restore the data from your iCloud backup.

If you’re an Android user, Absolute Lojack helps locate your missing device using GPS, Wi-Fi or IP geolocation, allowing you to see its last location. The subscription app also locks your device and lets you erase files. If your device isn't recovered within 60 days, Absolute LoJack will help pay for a replacement.

The free Lookout app for iOS and Android performs several of the same functions. It also has a “scream,” or “siren,” function and a theft alert function. And it protects your device from malware, scans other apps, and blocks malicious websites, among other features. It also backs up your Google contacts and photos to the Cloud.

If you have a Norton Mobile Security subscription, a free app provides similar protection. It also protects against malware and other privacy risks and has a call and text blocker. This app protects multiple Android smartphones and tablets, as well as iOS devices, with one account, although most features are available only on Android devices.

Identity Theft

Among the apps that address identity theft is ProtectMyID, a product for Experian members that works on iPhones and Androids. For a monthly fee, it provides surveillance and credit alerts and allows the company to scan the Internet for possible unauthorized use of your Social Security, credit card and debit card numbers. It also provides identity theft resolution tips.

Experian also offers RestoreMyID, which pairs you with an identity theft resolution agent if your identity has been stolen. The app also provides tips for identity protection and restoration. Downloading the app is free, but there is a $149.95 fee for identity theft restoration, which includes credit reports from the three credit bureaus and a three-month subscription to ProtectMyID.

Among other services, LifeLock monitors your bank, credit card and other accounts and alerts you when it detects possible fraudulent activity, for a monthly fee. It also searches for potential misuse of your Social Security number, name and other personal information in applications for credit and services. Upgraded versions offer additional services, such as credit score monitoring and alerts for banks and investment account takeovers.

Password Protection

The conundrum with passwords is that you should create a different password for each of your online accounts to minimize the possibility of hackers accessing your personal information. Yet, writing your passwords down or saving them in your mobile device exposes them.

Among the apps that keep your passwords locked in a cyber-vault is LastPass. This subscription app lets you centralize your passwords and other information in one “vault,” where you can manage your stored data — including passport information, credit card numbers, and WiFi logins — for each family member. When you log in, the vault autofills your password for the appropriate account. Additional functions include automatic file backup and security alerts. LastPass is available for iOS and Android devices.

Compatible with iPhones, iPads and Androids, the SplashID app is free for basic record storage. When you install the app, you’ll create a password that will be used to encrypt all of your SplashID records, including Web logins, account numbers, credit card numbers, documents, photos and notes. You can sync your records via Cloud or WiFi. For an annual fee, the Pro version offers additional functions, such as synching across devices and automatic backup.

Data Protection

Using the Internet on the road can expose your identity and other personal information to cyber-thieves, since you may need to access the Web via unsecured, public WiFi networks. Apps that provide virtual private networks (VPNs), like Avast Mobile Security, allow you to browse the web and communicate privately and anonymously, via encryption.

Among this app’s other functions are an anti-theft option (with functions such as an app disguiser, SIM card change notification, and remote lock and memory wipe), an antivirus function, SMS and call filtering, and a malware shield. The app connects up to five iOS and Android devices simultaneously. The basic app is free. A premium version is available by subscription and offers additional functions, such as geofencing, in which your device performs actions such as lock, siren, and send location when it leaves a set perimeter.

If you’re an AOL member, you can download the Data Mask app for your iOS or Android device for free. (For non-AOL members, there is a subscription fee.) It protects you from keylogging and phishing by replacing actual keystrokes with fake, random keystrokes. In addition, it stores media files in a cyber-vault and diverts you from phishing sites so that you are not tricked into giving out your login information.


Mimi Kmet
Mimi Kmet has been a travel writer for more than 20 years, covering destinations, trends and the tourism industry. She lives in Los Angeles, Calif.