Common sense dictates never entering your user name or password into a hotel or business center computer—or any public computer, for that matter. But that’s not the only danger you face in your travels.
If you travel, you’re a target for thieves—and your digital assets are highly prized. Thieves covet user names and passwords that give them access to a treasure trove of information and the chance to go for a ride on your dime.
What’s a road warrior to do? Common sense dictates never entering your user name or password into a hotel or business center computer—or any public computer, for that matter. But that’s not the only danger you face in your travels. Here are eight expert tips to stay secure while traveling:
- Always use a password: Use a password or other authentication mechanism on all your devices, without exception, says Bryce Austin, CEO of TCE Strategy, a CIO-level services firm. “Your smartphone, tablet and laptop all need a way to keep them secure,” he says. “On a smartphone, new biometric authentication techniques are terrific. Thumbprints for iPhones, iris scans for Fujitsu phones, and so on are a good way to keep your device secure and not have to remember a password.”
- Encrypt laptop and mobile data: “When traveling with digital devices, make sure to use encryption software that makes your data useless to a thief,” says Robert Siciliano, identity theft expert with BestIDTheftCompanys.com. Windows 7, 8 or 10 computers can use a built-in program called “bitlocker” if your laptop has something called a TPM chip, and security software companies also make hard drive encryption solutions.
- Avoid public Wi-Fi. Due to freely available hacking tools, it’s easy to eavesdrop on public Wi-Fi, even with encryption enabled. Kip Boyle, founder and president of Cyber Risk Opportunities, suggests avoiding public Wi-Fi in favor of a portable hot spot. “Often, you can activate one on your mobile phone if you have that feature activated with your carrier,” Boyle says. “If you have no other choices and must be online, turn on a virtual private network (VPN) as soon as you can after connecting to someone else’s Wi-Fi. If your company doesn’t have a VPN, you can get one yourself, often for free, from a provider such as the highly rated CyberGhost VPN.”
- Engage the self-erase function: “Set your device to erase itself if the wrong password is entered too many times,” says Austin. “Google the words ‘password attempts’ and the name of your device—for example, ‘password attempts iPhone’—to learn more.”
- Install tracking software: “Mobile devices should have a lock/locate/wipe software that does just that in the event your device goes mobile without you,” says Siciliano. Various vendors sell smartphone security system packages.
- Keep your devices patched: “Be it your Windows laptop, your Mac, your iPhone or your Android device, install patches for your operating system very soon after they come out,” Austin says. “This is critical for the safety of your device, be it in the office or abroad.”
- Beware overseas travel: “Even foreign governments want to see the data on your devices. When traveling overseas, especially to China, bring a computer that has only the minimum amount of data on it that you need,” Boyle says. “And to avoid problems in countries with strict censorship, make sure your devices are scrubbed of any offensive images or writing that might be considered subversive.”
- Lock up valuables: “This doesn’t just mean jewelry--use your hotel room’s safe to lock up passports, airline information, credit cards, cash and electronic gadgets unless you’re using them,” Siciliano says. “Better yet, take them with you. Better still, only travel with valuables you absolutely need.”
For more information on endpoint security best practices, visit the Heat Software website.
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