Cyber security for business travelers is a key topic as traveling for work can make 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 you know what the key cyber security tips for business travel are and how to react in case of a cyber attack.
So, 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 against online threats. Social engineering, phishing or 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 and achieve financial gain.
Cyber security for corporate travel is a hot topic and as a business traveler, you’re particularly vulnerable to cyber attacks as you’re working outside of a secure office space. It’s your responsibility to make sure that your devices are well protected against cyber threats and that your company and clients’ data is safeguarded.
During a business trip, the risk of having your devices infected by malicious software is high. As an example, this can happen if you connect to an unsecured wireless network or if you use publicly-accessible 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 it’s your laptop, your smartphone or any other work electronic – make sure that an identification method such as a password, a PIN, your fingerprint or facial recognition has been set and is needed to unlock it and access the system.
This will ensure better computer security while traveling and help protect your devices against thieves in case you get robbed.
2. Update your passwords
Are your devices protected by passwords? Good. But make sure you update your passwords regularly, especially before and after your business trip. Having different passwords during your business trip will mitigate the risk of compromised accounts, so that even if someone accesses your passwords during your trip, they won’t be able to use them once your trip is over.
Avoid password reuse between apps, accounts and devices and make sure to choose strong passwords with at least 12 characters – including lowercase, uppercase, numbers and symbols. Using a password generator is an easy way of creating 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, be just as careful and use a strong PIN 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 and be better protected against cybercriminals.
Two-factor authentication is a security method that requires you to use two forms of identification to log in to your account. You first need to enter your user credentials and then provide a second piece of authenticating information – it can be a PIN code, a token, a face ID, a fingerprint, etc.
Using 2FA increases the security of your online accounts, as 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 a phishing attack: should you enter your credentials on a phishing site, the extra layer of protection will still prevent hackers from entering your account.
4. Use the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth carefully
When traveling for business, using Wi-Fi is a necessity, but it can be a risk, as you can have sensitive company and client information 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.
One among many smartphone security tips is to disable the Wi-Fi feature when you don’t need it, as well as the automatic connection to available Wi-Fi networks. The same goes with Bluetooth: turn off the feature when you don’t use it to avoid anyone connecting to your device and stealing your information.
5. Use a VPN
A good cyber security tip when working remotely or traveling for business is to connect to the Wi-Fi 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 Wi-Fi 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 ends up being 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 you against malicious software (malware), such as viruses, spyware, ransomware, Trojans, etc. that can be contained in email attachments or links.
With regular updates, it will keep your system up to date with the most recent virus definitions to protect you against threats. But be aware that antivirus alone isn’t enough to protect you against all cyber threats that exist.
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 to the cloud.
This allows you to 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 cloud data from any device and location, as well as keep on collaborating with your 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 against you to launch phishing attacks or steal any device or data that you may have left behind at your hotel while you’ve gone out. Not to mention that it could reveal confidential information regarding your company’s activities or clients.
9. Keep your operating systems up to date
Make sure that your operating systems are up to date by running all the necessary updates. Having all the latest updates installed is key to protecting your devices against constantly evolving cyber threats and reducing the risk of catching a virus.
Don’t forget to also update your smartphone’s apps, especially the business apps you need while on a business trip.
10. Take data precautions
A good business travel safety tip is to pack essential devices only and store the particular 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, as well as mitigate the impact of a potential cyber attack.
Your company’s IT department might even loan you clean devices where you’ll be able to store the data you strictly need to avoid running the risk of having extra confidential data stolen. Check your company’s travel policy or ask your manager to know if this is something you can borrow.
11. Run a post-trip checkup
Once your trip is over, don’t hesitate to visit your IT department and ask them to check if all your devices are healthy and haven’t been infected with malware. If that’s been the case, they’ll know what to do to mitigate the impact of the cyber attack on the company and its clients.
What to do in case of a cyber attack
If you think or you know you’ve been the victim of a cyber attack, here are some immediate actions you can take:
- Install any pending security updates
- Turn off the Internet access and Bluetooth on your devices
- Change your passwords
Then, get in touch with your IT department as soon as possible and be prepared to share the details of the cyber attack. They’ll know how to identify which systems, accounts and data may have been compromised and which steps to take to mitigate the impact of the attack.
Corporate travel security is a genuine concern while traveling for business. It’s a critical aspect of your trip that you should prepare before, during and after traveling. By implementing all the tips mentioned above, educating yourself about cyber security and staying vigilant at all times, you’re already reducing the risk of falling victim to cybercriminals.