When we travel for work we often carry sensitive data, both personal and business related, on a number of devices. Whilst on the road we do not work in our usual, protected environment, and therefore, we instantly become more vulnerable to cyber-attacks through unsafe networks. Or simply, our devices are stolen or forgotten, losing our valuable data. Data security is often overlooked in business travel.
Before you go
Safety measures begin before you leave your house or office. Remember to backup all your devices before you go on a trip and consider whether or not you need to take all your data with you. Are all those smart-devices really necessary?
Follow your company’s data security recommendation
Data security is high priority for any business. If your company has done its homework, your laptop is already encrypted and you can connect over VPN. Follow the instructions laid down by your IT department.
Protect your equipment
Don’t leave your laptop or other devices laying around in your hotel room. Take them with you. Are you going to a business dinner and can’t carry your laptop? Place it in the hotel safe.
Be aware of who’s listening in
Enemy ears are listening. This slogan was often used during the Second World War, but is still valid today. Be careful where you take a call or discuss topics with sensitive information. In a hotel lobby, in an airport, you never know who’s eavesdropping.
Consider using a privacy screen on your laptop
Flights provide a very good opportunity to get some work done as you are not bothered by emails or calls during that time. However, you are confined to a tiny space and your laptop screen might attract the attention of other passengers. You may be working on an important strategic presentation, financial information and spreadsheet, business plans, or other, confidential information. You probably wouldn’t be willing to share this information outside of work, so don’t share it with the guy sat in 16A.
Be cautious of public WiFi
This is an obvious tip, but it’s easy to ignore for the sake of convenience, reducing your data security. Free WiFi access might be useful, but public networks are very vulnerable to security issues. Don’t trust them, not even in the hotel or in business centers. If you must use them, avoid accessing sensitive data.
Turn off Bluetooth
A Bluetooth connection might be another open gateway for hackers to access your devices. Unless you are using a wireless headset, it is most likely you don’t need Bluetooth while traveling. Just turn it off to secure your devices.
Use two-step authentication
This is a very simple way to increase the security of many web services like email and social media. Even if your password is compromised over an unsafe network, hackers would still need the code sent to your phone via text message to access your email or Facebook account.
Don’t forget your devices in the taxi back home.