So many things can go wrong with your tech when you travel. Your laptop crashes, or you drop your phone and it breaks. At worst, devices get lost, stolen or hacked – and business users can say goodbye to their most important and sensitive data. The best course of action is to be prepared before you travel.
Here are 10 tips and tricks to protect your tech on your business travels.
1. Avoid checking in your devices.
If you're checking in your laptop, tablet or other tech, they are just one toss away from serious damage. They get thrown around between conveyor belts, trucks and planes – and airlines are not responsible for any loss or broken equipment. Airlines also lose luggage all the time, and if yours doesn't make its way to baggage claim, you'll be waiting a long time to see your device again. And who knows who has accessed your device in the meantime? The best way to travel with your tech devices is to pack them in your carry-on.
2. Invest in quality carry-on luggage.
You should have quality carry-on luggage with designated compartments for laptops and other electronics to protect them from damage. They are often designed with padding, reinforced sides and protective corners to secure your devices as they're being lugged around terminals, security conveyor belts and overhead compartments.
3. Use rugged casing.
If you don't have a rugged laptop, a rugged laptop case can provide similar benefits. A rugged laptop case offers shock and vibration resistance so your laptop doesn't break easily if you drop it or if there's any in-flight turbulence. It also waterproofs your device, keeps out any dust or small particles, and withstands extreme temperatures wherever you travel.
4. Pack tech in tamper-evident bags.
A tamper-evident bag seals your device from unauthorized access. This is especially important if you will be leaving your electronics unattended, such as packing them into checked baggage. Tamper-evident bags require being torn to open, so you can see when someone has tried to access your device. This way, you can take immediate protective measures to mitigate any damage before it's too late.
5. Check in with IT.
Protecting data is a priority for businesses. Talk to your IT department about the company's security policies while traveling and installing safeguards to protect your device from data breaches. This includes making sure all software is up to date, beefing up your security settings, installing encryption software, implementing VPNs and securing user restrictions. IT will also likely enable remote data wiping and locating software in case you lose your laptop or it gets stolen.
6. Prepare for airport security checks.
Border agents have a broad range of rights to search your phone. One way to keep your data safe is by enabling passcodes and biometric logins, such as using your fingerprint to unlock an iPhone. This way, not just anyone can get into your devices. Experts also advise international travelers to turn their devices completely off – not just in sleep mode – before going through customs, as this is when encryption tools offer the fullest protection. And there are some countries where you cannot fly with a laptop or tablet in the main cabin, including Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, Morocco, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey.
7. Install monitoring software.
Hackers can sweep your devices for data in the blink of an eye. Most of the time, you won't know until it's too late. Before traveling, make sure to install monitoring software, which detects when changes are being made or data is being gathered from your device. Some solutions can also alert you if they detect unauthorized remote access.
8. Watch out with Wi-Fi.
Free Wi-Fi is available everywhere when you travel, but public Wi-Fi can also be a free-for-all for cybercriminals. Avoid free, unencrypted networks, and make sure the network you log in to is safe and secure. You should also use a VPN for an extra layer of security. AT&T, Verizon and other carriers offer affordable data plans, so you can use your own private hotspot without taking the risk with public Wi-Fi.
9. Clear all cookies and autofill.
If you keep cookies and use autofill in your browser, you're making it easier for thieves and hackers to access your accounts, data and other sensitive information. Although it's generally okay to save cookies and use autofill at home or in the office, it's best to clear everything before traveling to keep your devices safe.
10. Use a "burner" device.
If possible, use a laptop or phone other than your regular devices in which you store sensitive information. This burner device will only have minimal data for travel, so you risk minimal loss in the event of a security breach. You can also back up data you think will need – but don't want to keep in your travel device – in the cloud to give your burner laptop or phone temporary access. Just be sure not to store any passwords or sign-in information. Because burner devices are relatively inexpensive, you don't have to worry about breaking the bank if you lose them.