Many of us that travel are all too familiar with needing to hop online and get a critical document to a client while waiting for your plane, in a coffee shop or at a trade show. For the “road warrior”, checking into our hotel and doing another few hours of work is the norm. The great news is that with the advances in technology over the last decade we can work faster, harder and longer from anywhere in the world; giving us that competitive edge to communicate with our organization and clients almost in real time. However, in this ever-changing world of hackers and cyber criminals, more and more burden is placed on the end-user (us) to protect ourselves and our network while away from the office. Hopefully your organization has a good multi-tiered end-user security approach to protecting your network. That would include good anti-virus software on your laptop, a VPN set up between your laptop and corporate network, a good Firewall protecting your network, encryption on your laptop, a strong password policy, spam/virus filtering on your e-mail accounts, segregated permissions for different users and security training, to name a few.
Your IT team can put many technical safeguards in place, but it is still your responsibility to know a few key items.
- Do not use public wi-fi to connect to your corporate network. If a WiFi network is public, that means anything you do online can be tracked and captured. And this includes almost all hotel WiFi networks. Note: If you connect with a VPN tunnel with two factor authentication, public Wi-Fi is safer to use.
- Try to tether your phone to your laptop and use your data plan when possible.
- If you do use hotel Wi-fi make sure you are connecting to their exact name. Bad guys could create a Hilton2 wireless network designed to trick rushed travelers. A rogue wireless network will route your traffic through their access point seeing, and recording, everything you do.
- Keep your laptop in a secure location while traveling. In your custody or in a locked area is best.
- Encrypting your laptop is quick and easy to do and can save you, keeping your data secure, if your laptop is ever lost or stolen.
- Disconnect from Bluetooth and wireless when not in use and disable automatic connections.
- Log out of connection when not in use
- Try to avoid making financial transactions on banking sites while traveling.
- If your antivirus or firewall gives you a warning, pay attention to it and report any abnormalities to your IT support team.
- Never bypass any of the technical security measures that you have on your system. They are there to protect you.
- Follow your company’s data protection policies, which should include a Mobile device Policy.
- Do not send any sensitive data in plain text through e-mail outside of your organization.
- Mobile USB drive devices (thumb drives) should be used with caution. Virus can jump from a system to a USB drive to another system. Be cautious when using this method of storage. An encrypted thumb drive will keep your data safe if it’s ever misplaced.
We hope this helps you become more secure when traveling. The following sites will give further information on protecting yourself outside of the office.