Updated: Jun 3, 2020
It’s summer! Time to take the much-awaited vacation. You’re probably worried about getting your flight and hotel reservations in place, putting your luggage together, and setting up your business email accounts to ‘Out of Office’ mode.
However, when you are traveling with your data devices around the world, there is a hidden danger. Your devices can be lost. They can be stolen or hacked for data collection. Most people don’t prepare for such eventualities but it’s especially important if your personal devices hold your business data like banking, contracts, identification documents and others.
Vacation is your time to relax and enjoy, so here are some tips to keep your data safe while you travel:
1. Updates, Maintenance, and Application Settings
Companies like Microsoft, Apple and Google spend an enormous amount of resources to provide your devices with operating system updates. These efforts keep your data safe. When you are working in your known business environment, there might be safeguards in place that are protecting you even if you are lax about installing the new updates.
But before traveling, make sure all your devices have the latest software installed to prevent hackers from getting into your devices easily. Also, it’s a good idea to have a look at the various app settings. There might be applications that are tracking your location and broadcasting the information. These settings can put your safety in jeopardy.
2. Password-Protect Devices
Having passwords for all your devices is a good security practice. You can use the biometric access controls like voice, fingerprints or retina scans to get higher levels of security.
With password protection turned on, it will be harder for someone to access your data on stolen devices. You’ll be grateful that you took the time to set the password. For extra caution, get rid of autosave from your applications and browsing history. It will prevent hackers from getting access to your bank or Amazon account even if they somehow get device-level access.
3. Use Public Wi-Fi with Caution
If you have a comprehensive wireless plan, you can avoid public wireless access points. Otherwise, during your travels, you will most likely have to use a public Wi-Fi at some point. Whether it’s while getting a Mocha Frappuccino at Starbucks or waiting at the airport lounge, it’s important to understand the risks.
When you use public Wi-Fi, the unencrypted information passing back and forth is visible to anyone in that network. Hackers can listen to your wireless communication and pick up sensitive data like usernames and passwords. But if you use a VPN (virtual private network), then your data will be safer. With a VPN service, the information goes through a tunnel, and hackers can’t see what’s going on inside the private communication channel. Generally, most IT managed service providers have VPN services available for deployment. Alternatively, there are also independent VPN services that have monthly subscriptions available.
4. Beware of Smishing
The term smishing stems from SMS (short message service) and phishing. SMS is the protocol used for text messaging. Phishing scams are not new. You probably get phishing emails that ask you to click on suspicious links. Nowadays Microsoft and Gmail services detect these suspicious emails and send them to junk folders.
Smishing is the text message version of phishing emails. If you are using a foreign sim card or one of your apps, they can broadcast your location to local businesses, and you can fall prey to smishing attacks. So when you are traveling, avoid clicking on any text message links from unknown senders.
5. Set Up Your Device for Remote Operations
Most mobile device operating systems offer ways to remotely wipe data. Before you start your travel, make sure your devices are set up for these services. In case your device gets lost or stolen, you can use this remedy to ensure that the person holding the device doesn’t get access to your data.
Also, you can set up apps to locate your lost or stolen device (but if you are in a foreign location, it’s probably not a good idea to go on a scavenger hunt). Or, you can write a contact information, like secondary email, on the back of your devices, so good samaritans can contact you if necessary. Again, use caution when someone contacts you in a foreign place.
6. Protect Your Primary Phone Number
If you are using your phone number for account identification purposes, you should be careful about giving it to strangers. It can be used to data mine for more information or used to replicate your phone for cracking two-factor authentications.
In order to safeguard yourself, you can use a temporary sim card and number. Also, make sure your primary devices are always with you. Keeping your device in your luggage means intermediaries might have access to the device during transportation.
Enjoy Your Vacation!
Taking the above precautions will help you enjoy your downtime more. Even if you lose your device, it doesn’t have to ruin your vacation. You’ll have already taken the necessary steps to keep your information secure.
Do you want to ensure that your business devices are as secure as they can be? At Cleartech Group, our experts are up-to-date on all data security issues. Contact us today at (978) 466-1938 or reach out online.