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Tips for ensuring data security when traveling for business

Traveling for work presents many challenges. The last thing anyone needs is to have their data security compromised. Corporate Travel Management (CTM) has some timely advice for business travelers to help prevent a hazardous data breach while on the road.

If you’ve been checking your emails lately, you may have noticed a higher than usual amount of privacy policy updates from companies all over the world. With General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulations now in place across the UK and Europe, data privacy and security are hot topics.

When traveling for business, it’s important to take precautionary measures to ensure no personal or company data is vulnerable to hackers. A recent CTM survey revealed only one in four of our customers are concerned about data security when traveling for business. With this in mind it’s a good time to investigate the risks of breaches and understand what simple steps you can take to improve security.

From laptops and tablets, to mobiles and smart watches, modern-day business travelers need to protect multiple devices from hacks and data breaches in an increasingly digital world.

The cost of cyber-crime globally exceeds $500 billion, while data breaches can cost the average company around $3.8 million according to Microsoft.1

If you or your staff travel for meetings or events, the following five tips will help to ensure data security while on the road.

1. Only connect to safe Wi-Fi network – if in doubt, default to mobile data.

While free public Wi-Fi is becoming more readily available and accessible, so are the opportunities for hackers to compromise your data. The easiest way to avoid any surprise attacks is to disable your Wi-Fi’s auto-connect mode on your mobile device so it doesn’t automatically connect to public Wi-Fi without your knowledge. About 38% of known data security breaches occur via hotel networks. Travel sims are the safest way to access data overseas as they eliminate the need to connect to suspect Wi-Fi, so choose a tablet that allows sims to be inserted. If this is not available, hotspot from your mobile device.

We also recommend reviewing iPass as a company sponsored program for travelers to access hotspots via a secure pathway at a reduced cost. iPass is Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company providing seamless, secure, global access to over 57M hotspots worldwide, the largest Wi-Fi network in the world.

2. Use more advanced methods to protect device access

Set-up more advanced security measures to protect device access if available. Facial recognition and fingerprint ID scanning are great alternatives. If a password is necessary, use a unique password for each device and ensure it is 8-10 characters long. Avoid default passwords such as ‘admin’, which was the most commonly hacked password in 2016. Default passwords are still the biggest security weakness for IoT devices such as smart watches, FitBits and dash cams. Implement a two-factor authentication, as it will make it more difficult for a hacker to gain access.

3. Update all operating systems

Make sure your operating software is up-to-date across all your devices. Spend 30 minutes the day before travel updating your software while you are still connected to your office or home Wi-Fi service. Also, check for any app updates that may be relevant during your travel, especially banking apps and any others that store personal data such as Uber, Lyft and Outlook.

4. Disable Bluetooth connectivity

As with Wi-Fi, leaving Bluetooth functionality enabled on your phone can leave you vulnerable to nearby cyber hackers. If you do enable Bluetooth to connect to a client’s technology during a sales pitch, make a mental note to switch off immediately afterwards. If you connect to a rental car’s Bluetooth to make phone calls on the road, ensure all data transferred to the car’s system is deleted before you hand in your car keys.

5. Have an action plan for data breaches

Although you’ve taken care to prevent a data breach from occurring, there’s always a chance you may still fall victim to new viruses or hacking techniques. Consult your company’s technology department prior to departure about preparing an action plan in case of a breach. Ensure you have the correct contact information in case you need support.

Causes-of-data-breaches-2016

https://www.symantec.com/content/dam/symantec/docs/reports/istr-22-2017-en.pdf

Unsure how to tell if your device has been hacked? Here are some quick tips on reading the warning signs before it’s too late.

  • Keep an eye out for any new icons on your desktop/mobile device.
  • Is your device running noticeably slower than usual?
  • Some of your files have been moved or deleted.
  • Suddenly unable to log into your device or any online accounts.
  • You receive an unusually large phone data or internet bill. If in doubt, run a virus check via your security software.

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