Just because you might be taking a vacation this summer doesn’t mean cyber thieves will do the same. As you and your company’s users prepare to close out your summer travel – for leisure or for work – it’s important to take a few simple precautions that will go a long way in the protection of your data, and your employers.
Remember, the hospitality industry is a popular target for cyber attackers, mostly due to the treasure trove of personal information they usually possess, including passport information, credit card details, address, birthdate, travel plans and more. From Hyatt to Uber, Hertz to United, companies that support your travel have long proven vulnerable. And, many jurisdictions are now demanding ad hoc access (at border crossings, customs and immigration) to travelers’ mobile devices.
What can you do to protect your data? Here are a few tips:
- Don’t bring confidential, company or personal information with you on your laptop or tablet. Sounds easier said than done, right? Yes, but there are workarounds. Instead of toting a laptop filled with company files, store your data on a thumb drive that has an OS built in. Tails is one portable OS I’ve used. You can also try Ubuntu and macOS Sierra. These are great options, as long as you keep your thumb drive safe if you plan to bring it with you.
- Don’t keep company data on your mobile phone. Mobile devices are the most likely device to be misplaced, especially while traveling. For this reason, be sure to use an actual pin code or password to unlock your phone and disable the fingerprint unlock while you travel. They are very easy to get around. And, in many jurisdictions, the authorities cannot force you to give up your pin or password but there is precedence for the enforcement of fingerprint unlocking demands by law enforcement.
- Upgrade your passwords and practice safe wi-fi use. Passwords are common sense but it bears repeating – update them before you go. And, keep your wi-fi and Bluetooth features turned off, especially when traveling to other countries, until you can verify the SSID. Many devices automatically search for wi-fi networks and some attacks can sense this. Do your due diligence. Airports are known for the vulnerability of their wi-fi networks, as this story points out with this year’s top 10 worst list.
Two last travel tips I was reminded of while traveling in Europe last week: keep copies of your travel documentation (passports, visas, tickets, etc.) in a secure place. If you lose them, they are much easier to replace if you have a copy to reference. And, have a back-up plan. The recent security breach in the Munich airport stranded thousands of passengers, across multiple airlines. Large incidents like these can mean days before you can get rebooked. For fun or for work, no one wants to wait in those lines.
Most importantly though, no one wants to lose their proprietary or personal information to cyber thieves.