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Grow Your Business Security

Cybersecurity While Traveling: Tips and Tricks

Business travel
Credit: Shutterstock

In the office or at home, you may be protected from online threats thanks to a robust cybersecurity solution for your internal network. But what about when you're on a trip? You won't be protected by your office's network security and must depend on hotel and conference center Wi-Fi, which aren't always safe. Using your mobile devices on the on the go increases your risk of being exposed to online threats – hackers are always looking for opportunities to infect mobile devices and use them to gain access to the greater network.

When on a business trip and constantly using your mobile device for work, you need to be wary that you're more at risk of attack. There are certain best practices that all employees should follow when traveling with your work devices.

Rule number one: Lock it up. Always make sure your devices are locked and password-protected. Should you lose your device, or it's stolen, your first line of defense is a strong password. Even simple storage devices such as your USB thumb drive should have a password.

Furthermore, if it's possible, enable a two-factor authentication. On top of a password, use a credential system that either requires you to insert an unlocking USB device or a biometric lock, assuming that's feature on the device.

If you're traveling with sensitive data on your laptop, it's recommended you fully encrypt your device with disk encryption software. This locks your data away behind more authentication factors and is encrypted, so if it falls into the wrong hand, they can't strong arm their way through to the disk. The data is scrambled and is impossible to decipher without the password.

A feature on many laptops and mobile phones is an auto-connect option for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections. Make sure this is off, as you don't want to auto-connect to just any Wi-Fi connection you pass, as most public Wi-Fi connections are unsecured, and some can be set up for malicious purposes to gain access or download malware to your device.

Ideally, you don't want to store sensitive data on your device. Instead access it through the cloud over an encrypted connection such as a cloud access security broker (CASB).

"Don't store sensitive work data on a mobile device, period," said Mandy Newman, vice president of customer success for Ericom Software. "Mobile devices can easily fall into the wrong hands, where they are subject to tampering by sophisticated cyber criminals who are only too happy to sell that data to the highest bidder. Instead, data should remain securely within the corporate data center and accessed remotely over an encrypted connection that protects the session from prying eyes, even when using public Wi-Fi."

For business that have multiple employees who frequently travel with devices, a mobile device management solution (MDM) can help you keep track of those devices and make sure they remain secure. Most solutions include features to keep onboarded devices safe from unauthorized usage and access to work-related data and networks.

Editor's Note: Looking for a mobile device management solution? Fill out the below questionnaire to be connected with vendors that can help.

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These solutions can give you remote control and monitoring of your devices and allows you to enforce certain policies on devices, even certain controls for employees' personal devices they use for work by segregating company data and personal data.

These remote features allow you to keep a log of where the device has been used and every time it's logged into as well. If the device becomes lost or stolen, you'll know where the device has last been used and if there was a failed login attempt. You can also remotely lock the device or even wipe the data from the device if it's especially sensitive. [Interested in mobile device management solutions? Check out the best picks from our sister site, Business.com.]

Using public, unsecured Wi-Fi is risky and not recommended. While traveling, you may depend on free Wi-Fi offered at restaurants and other places, but generally a bad idea to connect with your work device to any open, unlocked Wi-Fi. When traveling, make an investment in a virtual private network (VPN) service. A VPN acts like a proxy server, creating an encrypted connection between your device and your work's network. Using this makes connecting to the hotel Wi-Fi so much safer.

"VPNs are the ideal cybersecurity tool for remote and traveling workforces," said Keri Lindenmuth, marketing manager for tech consulting company KDG. "They encrypt data in transit, meaning any files or data transferred between a remote employee and team members at the main office can't be seen or stolen by third-parties." 

Even if your connection to your company network or cloud service is intercepted by hackers, it will be scrambled and unusable.

Andreas Rivera

Andreas Rivera graduated from the University of Utah with a B.A. in Mass Communication and is now a  writer for Business.com and Business News Daily. His background in journalism brings a critical eye to his reviews and features, helping business leaders make the best decisions for their companies.