When preparing to embark on travel, certain steps seem natural: booking a hotel, reserving transport, and packing luggage. However, no matter if the intended travel is business or personal in nature, it is critical to undertake steps to ensure your safety on the road throughout your trip.
Understanding travel safety means understanding relevant risks and strategically planning to mitigate them. The reality is that both accidental loss and theft can occur while traveling; therefore in order to keep company data and your personal data protected, certain measures should be taken at each step of the voyage: before departure, during travel, and at the conclusion of the trip.
Another pre-trip aspect to consider is the preparation of your mobile devices.
Take the time to backup and update the devices that you anticipate taking with you. If you have items that are no longer needed, use this opportunity to delete them. Similarly if you are carrying data that you would not wish to share with the world, add an extra layer of protection through the encryption and password protection of the files.
It is also important to consider what travel information you are sharing, and with whom you are sharing it. Care should be taken with social media postings. Caution dictates that it is less dangerous to share those details and pictures after your return. Also, automated out-of-office messages should be concise and to the point. Distinguish between the messages that you are sharing internally and those that go out externally. Adding signatures or additional contact information to those external facing messages can increase the risk of that information being used by social engineers to potentially spear phish you or your colleagues.
Once embarking on your trip, stay close to your devices and baggage, having taken care to carry only what was necessary. Any item that carries your data, should be carried onto a flight. If you’re traveling by car, it is still important to keep important items in close proximity. Leaving items unattended or in a car, is never a good idea. If you must go out without a device, make sure it has been secured in your absence. Hotel safes are a great place to keep devices, emergency payment cards, and important documents, including travel itineraries, a photocopy of your passport, etc.
In transit, in the airport, or anytime Wi-Fi and Bluetooth aren’t in use, turn the features off on your devices. This will prevent the risk of unauthorized access, eavesdropping, or the injection of a virus onto the device. You may also consider turning global positioning off on your pictures, so when posted to social media they do not geo-tag your exact location.
When on the road, minimize your use of unknown WiFi signals. Public Wi-Fi can increase all kinds of risks, so use caution and best practices. Reserve sensitive corporate or financial tasks until utilizing a known, secure Internet source.
Remember too, that in the event that an incident occurs while traveling, it is important to act quickly to minimize the potential harm. If for example a device is lost or stolen, quick reporting action to remotely wipe the device and change account passwords can mean stopping the loss of data.
Once home, monitoring and continued vigilance are advisable on all of your accounts. This would include financial accounts to check for suspicious charges, and even personal accounts like email. Taking certain pro-active steps, like changing your passwords on relevant accounts and initiating an anti-virus scan on your devices, could help protect you and your data in the long run.
Travel has interminable benefits. It provides opportunities for international team members to meet, or can generate a critical turning point for a project, or in the case of leisure travel, can reinvigorate the human spirit and reconnect families. The risks that we face in Information Security are not isolated to travel. We must be attentive to the protection of our data, both corporate and personal, at all times. However, during travel, by following these protective measures, we can work to ensure a more secure, productive, and enjoyable trip, with a safe return.
Quick Travel Tips
- Pack Sensibly: Traveling light extends to data security. Travel with only the technology, devices and payment cards that you intend to use. Backup and update your devices, deleting any data or apps that are no longer needed. Also, carry photocopies of your important documents in case the actual documents are lost or stolen.
- Transit Tenaciously: Be mindful of your personal items, devices, and luggage, especially at airport checkpoints. Take care to leave nothing behind. Carry-on devices and sensitive materials, and never leave items unattended.
- Surf Securely: Open and unsecure Wi-Fi signals can pose a threat to data. Individuals broadcasting those signals can simultaneously be recording every keystroke as you type it. Choose instead to conduct your affairs on known, secure networks.
- Be on Guard: That old saying about keeping your wits about you is never truer than when traveling. Be aware of your surroundings, and monitor your email for travel warnings and travel alerts that may be issued during your trip. Report any suspicious activity or concerns to the appropriate contacts.
- Have a Heedful Homecoming: Upon your return, continue to monitor your corporate, personal, and financial accounts for suspicious activity. Change your passwords as a proactive precaution, and scan your devices for signs of malicious software.