JOHANNESBURG - BUSINESSES are often required to travel, whether it is for important meetings with clients, industry trade shows or checking in on key suppliers.
Travelling, however, can pose unique cybersecurity threats . Business travellers are especially vulnerable to having sensitive data hacked or stolen from their internet-enabled devices – be it a smartphone, laptop or tablet.
Since information is the currency of the digital age, data protection is a crucial requirement for any business – especially during times of increased vulnerability. It is therefore critical that businesses make cybersecurity a priority when they travel to avoid putting their data at risk.
Herewith are five simple habits to use in order to stay cyber-savvy on your business trips:
Before you head to the airport, do a backup of your business data to another device or Cloud storage, and delete sensitive information that you will not need access to while traveling. If you can manage without your laptop, phone or tablet, the safest place for them may be in the office or at home, so only take what you absolutely need.
Make it a habit to update your devices before you travel and while you are still connected to a reliable Wi-Fi connection, for example at home or your office. This includes operating systems, new features to apps and anti-virus software, which will make your devices more secure. Never click on suspicious links or pop-ups when you’re browsing online.
Make sure you set up a lock pin for all your devices, as this adds a layer of security in the event they are stolen. Passwords need to be strong and difficult to hack. Be vigilant and never leave your devices unattended – unless they are locked in a safe in your hotel room. Be aware of the people around you when you travel, and treat your device passwords the same way you would an ATM pin.
Free Wi-Fi at airports and hotels may actually pose a cybersecurity risk, as it makes it easier for hackers to access your sensitive company information. A would-be criminal is likely to access the free Wi-Fi connection and, if you connect, can watch your online movements. Rather opt to use the Personal Hotspot connection through a trusted wireless carrier where possible. Similarly, be cautious of public USB charging cables, as these are known to be used by hackers to steal people’s data.
If you’re not careful, your wireless connections such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and location tracking can be used by criminals to track your movements. While these features are designed to automatically connect and share to available networks, make sure to turn them off when you travel, enabling the security features. Be wary of linking your devices to rental cars via Bluetooth connectivity, and, before you return it, make sure to delete all data that may have been transferred to the car.
Ben Bierman is a managing director at Business Partners Limited