As you gear up for a productive 2016, while you are focused on getting to the next meeting or seeing the next client, realize cyber criminals could be focused on you. Plan now to stay safe on your next trip.
If your job is to facilitate travel (logistically, technically, or managerially) for your employees, share these important tips to help keep your company’s road warriors safe and the sensitive data they may carry secure.
Be Cautious and Alert on the Road
Business travelers are quite often on tight schedules, multitasking on the move, and carrying valuable company resources (equipment and data) with them. A frazzled, distracted traveler can be an easy target for a thief interested in your laptop or in the personal data it contains. Whether they are interested in your company’s critical data or network access or not, the theft of a connected machine necessitates the assumption that such valuable company resources have been compromised as well. A lost or stolen laptop or mobile device can stop you in your tracks. To avoid a complicated, time consuming mess, be cautious and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
Check Security Settings Before You Go
Before leaving the office, check to be sure security settings on all your devices are up to date. This applies to antivirus protection as well. Ensure that your laptop and your cell phone are not set to automatically connect to nearby wifi hotspots.
Check to be sure that your laptop has not saved automatic passwords that could allow the wrong person easy access to your company’s network. These saved passwords are convenient but, in the wrong hands, it can easily lead to compromised or stolen data.
If you need help or would like to confirm that the appropriate security settings are selected, visit your IT team before you leave the premises with that machine.
Ensure Encryption is in Place and Up to Date
If the data on your laptop is encrypted properly, the risk of important or protected information being lost is taken off your shoulders. Frankly, you should never leave the office with an un-encrypted machine. If your industry is subject to HIPAA or any other Federal regulation, the potential for fines or penalties should a breach occur are too great to take chances where something as simple as proper encryption could protect you and your company.
Again, confirm with your IT team that the laptop you travel with is encrypted and the data is protected if it were lost or stolen.
Only Connect Via Known, Secure Wifi Networks
In an airport, coffee shop or hotel, even at a client’s site, public wifi may pop up to grant you internet access. If you cannot verify the security of this network, do not connect. Data thieves park themselves close to public gathering places like coffee shops and set up bogus wifi access points to snare unsuspecting users. If you accidentally log on to an unsecure network set up by a hacker, you could be feeding them your personal information and your company’s vital data while you enjoy your latte unaware.
If you need constant, reliable, secure wifi access, talk to your IT team about traveling with your own internet card or hot spot that can provide your own, protected access point wherever you go.
When you are connected remotely, also be aware of any pop up messages asking you to allow an update or download. Do not click to allow any unknown updates or unrequested downloads.
Watch Your Bags and Don’t Leave Valuables in Plain Sight
Sometimes the best advice for IT security is the low-tech, obvious reminder. Never leave your bags or your laptop unattended. You may hear constant reminders of this over the airport PA system but it applies wherever you travel. When your attention is on your itinerary, the details of your upcoming meeting, or the important phone call you need to make before boarding your flight, someone can pass by casually and be off with your laptop bag in a blink. Be alert at all times.
Another obvious but absolutely critical tip – do not leave your valuables in plain sight. Do not leave them near a window or door in your hotel room and be sure to leave your laptop, if you must leave it at all, in the trunk of your car, never where it can be seen in the windows. When you select a rental car, knowing you are traveling with valuables, the economical hatchback may not be worth the risk. Be sure your rental has a trunk where your things can be safely out of sight.
We hope you and your employees enjoy a safe, and productive year.