If you travel for work, you are a target.
Let me say that again.
If you travel for business,
YOU. ARE. A. TARGET.
And it’s not just business travellers who are targets. Anyone can be a target. You and me both can be targets! Because traveling abroad poses unique cyber security threats.
However, business travellers are especially vulnerable. This is because more often than not, they carry sensitive data (both personal and business related) on a variety of devices, including smartphones, laptops, and tablets.
But don’t cancel your travel plans just yet!
Here are 10 Cyber Security tips for frequent travellers:
1. Lock devices down
Most mobile devices (such as your smartphones, laptops, and tablets) come with security settings that enables you to lock the device down, using a PIN number or fingerprint ID.
Do this on every device you are bringing overseas!
In the event that any of your devices have been momentarily misplaced, forgotten or stolen,
This will be the first line of defence against a security breach!
“If you don’t have a password on your phone and you are pick pocketed, you are in trouble,” says Dave Dean, founder of travel technology website, Too Many Adapters.
2. Be cautious of Public WiFi
The laws and regulations that govern cyber security in other countries are typically not going to be the same as those found in Singapore. Free Wi-Fi access is very appealing to business and leisure travellers. However, this is also particularly vulnerable to security issues!
Here are some things you can do to be cautious of public WiFi:
Avoid unencrypted Wi-Fi networks
Ask your hotel about its security protocol before connecting to the WiFi
Be extra cautious when using Internet cafes and free Wi-Fi hotspots like in the airport. If you must, avoid accessing personal accounts or sensitive data while connected to that network.
3. Disable Auto-Connect
Most mobile devices will have a setting that allows a device to automatically connect to Wi-Fi networks as you pass through them on your day-to-day activities. Although this is convenient to have at home, it is not something you should allow while traveling abroad.
Turn this feature off, not only when you travel, but permanently.
Telling your phone to automatically connect to any available network leaves you vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks.
4. Disable Bluetooth Connectivity
Just like your phone’s automatic Wi-Fi connectivity, Bluetooth connectivity can present problems. Bluetooth signals can come from anywhere. If your Bluetooth is left on, nearby assailants can connect to your phone and potentially hack into your device.
Turn off Bluetooth before you leave for your trip, and don’t turn it back on until you get home.
Many rental cars allow travellers to connect their smartphones using Bluetooth. However, some vehicles store your personal information (such as your contact list) even after you’ve terminated the connection.
5. Minimize Location Sharing
It’s very common for travellers to update social networking sites as they move about new counties or cities. The problem with this type of excessive sharing is that it creates a security threat at home. By signaling your every location, you make it easy for a criminal to determine that you’re not in your hotel room or at your home, leaving your personal belongings within these areas vulnerable to a physical intrusion.
Limit the information you post online about your specific whereabouts to limit these threats to your personal property.
6. Install Anti-Virus Protection
This is one of the easiest and most effective ways you can keep your personal and company information safe while traveling.
Ensure you use a trusted brand of security.
Additionally, make sure to regularly update it to the latest version.
7. Update Passwords
If you plan on traveling, change all of the passwords you regularly use.
Similarly, if you must create a PIN for a safe or security box in a hotel room, make sure it’s unique and not something you commonly use.
Don’t skimp on password creation either — 1234 or 0000 is not ideal! Take the time to create something that will keep a criminal out of your personal property.
Once you return home, you can change all the passwords back.
8. Turn on your local Firewall for all devices
Always keep your local firewall on – especially when traveling.
You must assume that the network you are connecting to is compromised. Even if the hotel or cafe employs their own firewall, assume it’s unsafe and employ your own locally.
Get it. Install it. Enable it. Never turn it off!
If it blocks you from something you probably didn’t need to visit it anyways!
This is probably the most important cyber security travel tip!
9. Update Operating Systems
Just like your anti-virus software, you should keep your operating system as current as possible. This also applies to apps on your phone; take special care to update apps that you regularly use to conduct financial or personal business.
10. Whole disk encrypt your devices
What happens if you lose one of your devices? You panic, you get frustrated, and you search high and low. The last thing you want is for someone to gain access to all your files – especially if it’s a business laptop or work phone.
Use whole disk encryption to ensure your hard drives are near impenetrable.
Whole disk encryption cloaks your hard drive through cryptography, making it difficult (although not mathematically impossible) to gain access to your drive without your user name and password.
What happens if you fail to follow these tips
Without putting the proper security measures in place beforehand, it is very easy for cybercriminals to place Malware (such as Trojans or Spyware) on your devices once you are connected to a public network.
These cybercriminals aren’t just spying on anyone; they’re tracking specific executives, some of whom work for technology companies, government agencies, or government contractors.
And when these executives return home and connect their mobile devices to their corporate networks, the hijacked computers can now be used to gather mission-critical sensitive data.
Imagine if you’re a technology executive with access to data on your corporate network that might contain government projects and developments. Taking a laissez-faire approach to security is a great way to give a hacker backdoor access to your company’s information.