Business travels can be hectic, and, as a result, safety could easily slip. You are more likely to be taken off-guard when navigating unfamiliar surroundings. Online security, in particular, could severely suffer in such moments, exposing you to countless dangers.
The consequences of a simple data breach, for instance, could be unimaginably costly to both you and your organization. Repercussions can range from identity theft and financial loss to reputational damage and legal action. So, what security precautions should you take to ensure digital safety as a business traveler? Here are our top tips.
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Today, airports, hotels, shopping malls, cafés, and almost every other service-related organization offer Wi-Fi access for those patronizing their premises. Free connectivity is undoubtedly a welcome perk, especially when you are traveling abroad. But there are hidden dangers you should be aware of.
According to a Forbes study, more than two in five people experience a data threat due to public Wi-Fi. Cafés, restaurants, and airports record the highest number of breaches.
Unsecured networks make it easier for cybercriminals to pry into your online activities. So, for example, when you log in to your email account or access online banking, a hacker could watch your every move, compromising account security.
The most effective way to avoid such risks while traveling is to use your mobile data by opening a personal hotspot. Another option is virtual private networks or VPNs. They can encrypt your activity data, allowing you to conceal your IP address and remain anonymous online.
In addition, deactivate the auto connect feature on your laptop and smartphone. It will prevent your devices from automatically detecting and connecting to public Wi-Fi networks without your knowledge.
Use Your Own Devices
Hotel business centers are a popular feature for business travelers. But by using their computers, you could get exposed to various online threats, even when there is a secure internet connection.
For example, business center PCs could easily contain malicious software downloaded from websites, email attachments, or even USB flash drives. Such malware may track your online activities or transfer to your external storage devices. And without realizing it, you could bring spyware back home.
Carrying your laptop with you is the easiest solution to avoid such risks.
Secure Your Devices
Taking necessary precautions to ensure device safety is crucial before you set off on your business trip. For instance, all devices should have anti-virus software to provide adequate protection against malware threats. The operating system and other software must be up-to-date with the latest patches to minimize vulnerabilities.
In addition, lock each device with a different passcode to prevent unauthorized access. Apply random number combinations that are difficult for anyone to guess. Also, log out of accounts and apps where possible to avoid intrusions in case your devices get lost or stolen.
Use Cloud Storage Options
Ransomware threats crossed 493 million in 2022. These vicious attacks can take your data hostage and prevent you from accessing personal and business files and folders saved on your device. The extent of the impact depends on the type of information the infected device holds. The more confidential and critical the files are, the more severe the consequences of a breach.
While it is impossible to completely avoid such threats, you can significantly minimize their impact by keeping important files off your laptop and smartphone. But remember, external storage devices can also carry malware, so they may not be the best alternative for storing data.
Secure cloud storage solutions, on the other hand, could provide better protection for your documents. They are also easier to access on the go and can make file sharing effortless.
Your devices can also hold photos, messages, bookmarked webpages, and other regular data. Take backups of all these in case you lose access. Many devices offer cloud backup options for convenient data recovery.
The risk of falling prey to an impersonation scam is often higher when you are traveling. For instance, while you are away from the office, how do you verify an email request from a coworker to share confidential business data? If you don’t send the requested information on time, you will naturally get into trouble. But sending it to a fraudster without checking could land you in bigger trouble.
In situations like these, authenticating business requests is critical for the safety of both you and your company. If you are contacted via an unfamiliar number, confirm whether the caller is who they say they are with a reverse search on PhoneHistory. For email requests, check your company’s internal phone directory to find an official number so you can call and verify the authenticity of the request.
Avoid Social Sharing
Posting travel plans on social media is a risky practice that could attract unnecessary attention from criminals. By letting the world know when you are away, you are providing valuable information for thieves to break into your home.
At the same time, it could also make you a target for various types of crimes during your travels. When you leave clues to your travel destinations and activities, you are making it easier for criminals to plan their fraudulent schemes. Even geotagging photos with location tags is enough to reveal your whereabouts.
The easiest way to avoid all these is to minimize social sharing until you return home.
As business travels continue to rise, so will threats to traveler safety. With increased reliance on digital tools and applications, from emails to online banking, cyber risks have become a prevalent cause of concern for businesses and professionals alike.
Although you may not be able to eliminate them entirely, you can certainly minimize your exposure with a proactive approach to digital safety. Avoiding public internet connections, relying on your own devices, keeping them secure, and using cloud storage solutions will help substantially reduce the risks of online threats. Authenticating requests from unknown parties and keeping travel plans confidential until you get back are other essential steps to consider.