If your daily-use devices store confidential data, explore the possibility of using a “disposable” phone and laptop when traveling. This allows you to maintain connectivity without exposing your contact lists, files, and sensitive information. If your organization doesn’t have this service, make the case for building a small repository of devices that can be issued for travel and then be wiped clean afterward.
Don’t Turn Your Back
Don’t leave your devices unattended in public, even for a few moments. At the airport, it can be tempting leave your laptop charging while you make a quick check on the status of your flight, but don’t do it. Thieves can snatch up your device in a second while you’re not looking. And even when you’re with your devices, keep them concealed. Many smartphones—particularly iPhones and newly released devices—are coveted by criminals, and there have been instances when brazen thieves have swiped phones right out of unsuspecting users’ hands. Tuck your smartphone into an interior pocket of your jacket or bag when not in use, and consider using a wireless headset if you are “walking and talking.”
Save the Vacation Posts until You’re Home
Social updates you post while you’re out of town make it clear that you’re not at home and you’re not at your office. Many people have hundreds of followers, and a vast number of those online relationships are superficial. Though it’s tempting to detail your travels in real time, it’s important to consider the potentially negative ramifications of sharing this information. Similarly, turn off automatic check-ins and location tracking. The problem with automatic posts is the lack of control. These activities can reveal where you are (a business trip or meeting, perhaps), but also where you aren’t.
Be Careful about Bluetooth Connections
You may think nothing of pairing your smartphone with your rental cars. But did you know that information is sometimes stored after you terminate the connection? That means that your contact lists and other data could be left behind. Before you turn in your keys, make sure your data has been deleted.
The Danger of Open Wi-Fi
Many people set their phones to find and connect to accessible Wi-Fi networks. While this can help reduce your mobile data consumption, it can also expose you to significant risks. Open WiFi—whether paid or free—must be approached with caution because any Wi-Fi network not protected by a password is vulnerable to attack.
Check Before You Connect
Did you know that names of Wi-Fi networks are manually created? This means that anyone can name a network anything they want. Scammers set up “rogue” and “evil twin” networks with names that sound trustworthy, such as “Airport Wi-Fi” or “Official Café Wireless.” Once connected to a scammer’s network, your data is in their hands. To be safe, check with an employee or another trusted source before you access an open Wi-Fi network.
Use Secure Networks
A virtual private network (VPN) adds a layer of encryption and security that is valuable when using any unknown connection. If you can use one, do use one. At a minimum, ensure that “https” is present in a Web address before accessing a secure site (i.e., Web mail, social media, or any site that requires a login). And whenever possible, hold off on doing any financial transactions on Wi-Fi, including checking your bank balance or making purchases, until you’re on a known, secure network.
Consider Traveling with a Personal Hotspot
With a mobile hotspot, you can be confident that you are getting a secure connection. This is particularly valuable for business travelers who have to network on the go and for whom security is a must.
Use the Hotel Safe
If you leave your devices in your hotel room, remember that many people have access, and staff members often enter your room while you’re not there. A hotel safe is a better choice than leaving items out in the open or barely concealed in a suitcase, though even these safes shouldn’t be trusted to secure devices that hold highly confidential data.
Is this business critical?
Whenever possible, leave your data-packed devices behind and bring only the basics. Ask yourself, “Is this business critical?” If the answer is no, it shouldn’t make the trip.