There are a lot of things to keep in mind when travelling for work. Keeping track of your belongings while navigating airports and train stations, all the while thinking about deadlines and meetings, can wear out any traveller quickly.
One important thing that may be overlooked as a result is data security.
Business travellers are 2 to 4 times more likely to suffer identity theft while in transit than other kinds of traveller, according to Locomote. This is a worrying statistic - especially when the same report found that 46% of business travellers work for companies with no clear travel security policies.
The best ways to protect your phone, laptop and data on your next business trip:
Set up Find my Device/iPhone:
Losing devices is always a risk when travelling. Not only are business travellers at risk of having devices stolen, but switching between modes of transport and unfamiliar hotel rooms while having a lot on your mind makes it easy to accidentally leave a device behind. Luckily, Androids and iPhones have some great security features to help you if you happen to lose a device - all you need to do is switch these features on.
Keep your devices with you:
One of the best ways to make sure you’re not leaving your devices vulnerable is to always keep them with you. While your devices can be hacked over the internet or eavesdropped over unsecured connections, with physical access your device can be tampered with - or stolen - in a heartbeat.
If you’re travelling by plane, you should avoid checking in your devices whenever possible. When you check in your devices, they can not only be damaged as luggage gets thrown about but can also be hacked by anyone gaining access to them, potentially allowing the installation of malicious software.
You should also avoid leaving your devices in your hotel room when you’re away unless there is a secure safe you can use. Even in reputable hotels, whenever you leave a laptop or phone unattended you create a potential security risk.
While a strong password will stop an unwanted user from logging into your laptop, data can be read from computer drives in other ways if the attacker has physical access to the device.
Whereas all iPhones and Androids released within the last couple of years have encryption turned on by default, you will need to turn it on manually to protect data on your computer.
Encryption essentially turns data into unreadable code whenever the device is switched off or locked, making it impossible for your files to be read without any potential viewer having the encryption passcode. This way if one of your devices does end up in someone else’s hands, they won’t be able to access your private or professional data.
Secure public Wi-Fi:
Your data can be at risk even without an attacker directly accessing your devices. Public Wi-Fi networks are tempting for travellers, who sometimes lack proper internet connections when in planes, airports and taxis.
However, without taking steps to protect your data, public Wi-Fi networks can pose a serious security risk. On unprotected Wi-Fi networks, these hackers can catch data between your device and the router, reading and even editing the information you are sending or receiving over the internet.
In order to use public Wi-Fi networks securely, you should use a VPN. VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) route your data through their servers, encrypting everything that is sent and received with your device. This means that anyone eavesdropping on your connection will be unable to decipher things like payment details or client communications, as they’ll be scrambled into seemingly nonsensical encryption keys rather than being visible as plain text.
VPNs are available for computers, phones and tablets, so there is no reason to send unencrypted information over public Wi-Fi networks while you’re working away.
Travel with minimal data:
While the tips above will help you protect the data on your devices, one of the most effective data security measures is to only take what you need with you in the first place.
If there is data on your devices that you know you won’t need on your trip, consider leaving it on a secure device or external hard drive in your office, and removing it from the devices you are taking with you. Using the cloud to access data while travelling is also a good option. However, don’t save cloud access passwords on your device, otherwise, having your data in the cloud won’t make it any less susceptible to theft.
The most important thing is to think ahead in regard to the risks that could be posed to your devices and data, and not let cybersecurity be an afterthought.