Cyber security for business travelers is a key topic because traveling for work can leave your business and clients’ data particularly vulnerable. While you’re on the go, your devices can be more exposed than usual to cybercriminals or thieves.
With cyber security threats constantly evolving and increasing, it’s essential to know key cyber security tips for business travel and how to react in case of a cyber attack.
What are the best ways of achieving digital security for business travel and which aspects of cyber security should you take into consideration?
What is cyber security?
Cyber security refers to the practices of protecting organizations and individuals from online threats. Social engineering, phishing, and malware are all examples of cyber threats. Cybercriminals may target businesses and try to illegally access their systems, networks, and devices to steal confidential information or client data for financial gain.
Cyber security for corporate travel is a hot topic. As a business traveler, you’re particularly vulnerable to cyber attacks because you’re working outside of a secure office space. It’s your responsibility to make sure your devices are well protected against cyber threats and that your company and clients’ data are safeguarded.
During a business trip, the risk of devices being infected by malicious software is high. For example, this can happen if you connect to an unsecured wireless network or use public computers or charging stations.
11 key points to ensure cyber security for business travel
Achieving cyber security for corporate travel is no easy task, but following these 11 cyber security tips will ensure you have the most important aspects covered.
1. Lock down your devices
Whenever you’re not using your device—whether a laptop, smartphone, or any electronics for work—make sure an identification method like a password, PIN, fingerprint, or facial recognition is needed to unlock it and access the system.
This will ensure better computer security while traveling and help protect your devices in case they’re stolen.
2. Update your passwords
Are your devices protected by passwords? Good. But make sure you update your passwords regularly, especially before and after a business trip. Having different passwords during business trips will mitigate the risk of compromised accounts. That way, even if someone accesses your passwords during your trip, they won’t be able to use them once your trip is over.
Avoid reusing passwords between apps, accounts, and devices, and make sure to choose strong passwords with at least 12 characters that include lowercase, uppercase, numbers, and symbols. Using a password generator is an easy way to create strong passwords that hackers can’t guess. To be extra safe, consider using a password manager—a program that uses advanced encryption—to store all your passwords in the same place. You’ll only need to memorize your master password to access all the others.
If you’re staying at a property with a safe and want to use it, set a strong code to guarantee information security.
3. Use two-factor authentication
With two-factor authentication (2FA), you can add an extra layer of security to your accounts for better protection against cybercriminals.
Two-factor authentication is a security method that requires you to use two forms of identification to log in to your account. First, you need to enter your user credentials, then provide a second piece of authenticating information, such as a PIN, token, face ID, or fingerprint.
Using 2FA increases the security of your online accounts. Even if someone manages to steal your passwords, they won’t get access without the second factor of authentication. It can also limit the impact of phishing attacks. If you enter your credentials on a phishing site, the extra layer of protection will still prevent hackers from accessing your account.
4. Use Wifi and Bluetooth carefully
When traveling for business, Wifi is a necessity, but it comes with the risk of sensitive company or client information being stolen. A common cyber security tip is to avoid using public networks, especially those that aren’t password-protected. If you have to connect to a public network, ask the staff for the official network name and password.
A key smartphone security tip is to disable the Wifi feature when you don’t need it, as well as the automatic connection to available Wifi networks. The same goes for Bluetooth. Turn off the feature when you aren’t using it to avoid anyone connecting to your device and stealing information.
5. Use a VPN
A good cyber security tip when working remotely or traveling for business is to connect to the Wifi using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). By creating a more secure connection with encryption, a VPN reduces the risk of hackers monitoring your online activities and accessing your data and passwords. This especially—but not exclusively—applies if you can’t avoid connecting to a public Wifi network.
A VPN will allow you to perform sensitive tasks—such as handling financial details, client information, etc.—without anyone being able to read this data even if it gets intercepted. It will also allow you to access your company’s network and keep performing your tasks as usual while you’re on the go.
6. Install antivirus software
All your devices—laptop, smartphone, and tablet—should have antivirus software installed and up to date. An antivirus detects, prevents, and protects against malware like viruses, spyware, ransomware, and Trojans that can be sent in email attachments or links.
With regular updates, it will keep your system up to date with the most recent virus protections to guard you against threats. But be aware that antivirus alone isn’t enough to protect you against every cyber threat.
7. Back up your data to the cloud
Before you go on a business trip, it’s good practice to back up your devices’ data on the cloud.
This will keep your data safe and accessible in case you lose any of your devices or encounter any technical issues during your trip. Since it’s stored on a remote server, you’ll be able to access your data from any device and location, and also to collaborate with colleagues by sharing files.
8. Minimize location sharing
While information sharing is common in the age of social media, don’t overdo it. Your location is key information that criminals can use to launch phishing attacks or to steal any device or data that you may have left behind at your hotel while you’re out. It could also reveal confidential information about your company’s activities or clients.
9. Keep your operating systems up to date
Make sure your operating systems are up to date by running all necessary updates. Having all the latest updates installed is key to protecting your devices against constantly evolving cyber threats, and reduces the risk of viruses.
Don’t forget to update your smartphone’s apps as well, especially the business apps you need while traveling.
10. Take data precautions
A good business travel safety tip is to pack essential devices only, and to store the specific information that you’ll need for your trip. This will help reduce the risk of a cyber attack or physical theft while you’re traveling, and also mitigate the impact of a potential cyber attack.
Your company’s IT department might even loan you clean devices where you can store only the data you need, which minimizes the risk of extra confidential data getting stolen. Check your company’s travel policy or ask your manager if there’s something you can borrow.
11. Run a post-trip check-up
Once your trip is over, don’t hesitate to visit your IT department and ask them to check if all your devices are safe and haven’t been infected with malware. If that’s the case, they’ll know how to mitigate the impact of a cyber attack on the company and its clients.
What to do in case of a cyber attack
If you think or know you’ve been the victim of a cyber attack, here are some immediate actions to take:
- Install any pending security updates
- Turn off the internet access and Bluetooth on your devices
- Change your passwords
Then reach out to your IT department as soon as possible and share the details of the cyber attack. They’ll know how to identify which systems, accounts, and data may have been compromised, as well as what steps to take to mitigate the impact of the attack.
Corporate travel security is a genuine concern. It’s a critical aspect that you should prepare for before, during, and after a trip. By implementing all the tips mentioned above, educating yourself about cyber security, and always staying vigilant, you’re already reducing the risk of falling victim to cybercriminals.