Letting your online security slip your mind when traveling for work can be easy. Along with your trip itinerary bouncing around your head, there are flight times, presentations to remember, and other essential things to keep track of.
However, keeping your data safe when you're abroad is crucial, especially if it's information related to your work or business.
No one wants to get a notification from a bank halfway through a meeting saying there's been suspicious activity with their account, right?
This article shares 8 tips to help you keep peace of mind while traveling for business.
Install Anti-Virus Software
This is a step commonly associated with computers and laptops.
However, it's equally important to ensure your other devices have the same protection level.
Hackers can target anything with an internet connection. This includes your smartphone or even your tablet.
The professional sector is the most targeted by ransomware, accounting for 71% of the total attacks.
Your computer may contain sensitive information about your job, but don't forget about your personal life.
You likely use your phone for online banking and sending private messages. Installing anti-virus software on your personal devices makes you stand a better chance of keeping your information safe.
Limit the Use Of Public Wi-Fi
It can be convenient to log onto the first Wi-Fi network you find once you need the internet.
But public Wi-Fi can also carry inherent security risks. If there is no encryption (such as a password), anybody can access the network and the data that goes through it. Most of the time, it's cybercriminals lurking on the same network as you, ready to strike.
Only use public Wi-Fi connections when necessary. Try to avoid it when dealing with sensitive data. Remember not to make any financial transactions or access accounts of a personal nature when on public Wi-Fi.
Use a Reliable VPN
VPNs can provide you with privacy and added security when online. As with anti-virus software, a VPN can be installed on your:
- Smart TV.
VPNs can also mask your IP address and make it look like you are using your device from another country.
A VPN can be beneficial if trying to access region-blocked content for your business needs. On the other hand, it allows you to log in to your bank from abroad without getting your account blocked for suspicious activity.
Try a free VPN Download before investing in a subscription to get an idea of its pros and cons; this page has more information.
Keep Bluetooth Deactivated
As with public Wi-Fi, Bluetooth can enable others to access your device remotely. A potential hacker must be somewhere nearby to get your data through Bluetooth.
It can happen in any public place, for instance, on public transport or at the markets.
While you may need Bluetooth to make use of certain pieces of hardware, such as a wireless mouse or headset, ensure you're turning this function off when it's not in use.
Store Important Documents On the Cloud
Vital files you need for your business trip could be easily lost if anything happened to your device.
So, it's essential to back up sensitive information by saving it to an external hard drive or USB drive. However, this still isn't a perfect option. Any physical storage may also get lost or damaged while on the road.
To avoid this, opt for cloud storage. You can access a cloud from most internet-enabled devices.
An important note is that you must keep your account's password secure. In 2021 alone, one out of four people in the US had their password breached more than once. Avoid using easy-to-guess passwords such as:
- Names of your close relatives or friends;
- Important dates;
- Your date of birth;
- Easy number combinations such as “12345678”.
You've got the idea.
Keep Your Software Up To Date
This includes your operating system and any applications you're using. Installing the most recent version will optimize performance and ensure that any security issues are patched.
Take some time to carry out these updates before your trip. Because doing so while traveling can be time-consuming, so you will most likely forget about it.
But using older software could expose critical information to hackers and risk your business or job.
Turn Off the Auto Connect Function
Your device can connect to a Wi-Fi network as soon as one is found nearby.
At home, this may be one of the most convenient features. When traveling, though, it's not something you should keep on active on your phone or laptop. Each device has a different path to deactivate this feature, but most of the time, you can do it by going to “Settings.”
If you're struggling to find out how to access the feature, try googling the model of your device and how you can do it. Alternatively, check the user manual.
Only Use Secure Websites
When traveling, you need to stay safe when browsing.
To help you do this, check if the sites you're accessing have a valid Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate. It helps encrypt the connection between you and the website and protects you from fake sites that can damage your computer or install malware.
On Google Chrome, this is easy to spot. The URL will have a padlock symbol, which means a secure HTTPS connection. In other words, if there's a padlock–the website has been checked and verified, and it's safe for you to access.
On the other hand, if the site does not have a valid SSL certificate, there will only be an HTTP instead of the HTTPS letter combination. You can read more about spotting a website without a secure connection here.
A side note is not to enter personal information on a website without an SSL certificate, just in case.