It’s officially the holiday season, and that means that everyone is traveling! Did you know that traveling is one of the likeliest times that you can lose valuable information or data? It’s because you tend to be rushed, things can get stolen, and you can misplace important items. Our Senior Team has listed the top four things that you should do to protect yourself and your data when traveling. Stay safe and happy holidays!
Step 1: Pay attention to who is around you
Mike | President: Recently I have been traveling a fair amount and have had the chance to see the reality of airports and rental cars and a number of things that scare IT team members in real life. Here are some very friendly reminders – much like lock your car when you get out and hide your notebook!
During recent trips to Chicago and Tampa, I watched numerous people login to their computer with no concern about who was watching them. Remember most people (once they have your user name and password) can steal your identity! I actually had a chance to watch someone not only login to his computer but at the same time leave his notebook sitting on his airplane seat UNLOCKED while he used the facility. In less than 20 seconds, I could’ve installed software to collect every keystroke he typed. Please remember to be mindful of your surroundings and don’t assume that people aren’t watching you!
Step 2: Be cautious when using public Wi-Fi
Branden | Vice President: In our modern, mobile world it is becoming a necessity to be able to connect to Wi-Fi/Internet everywhere you go. Very rarely do I go to a public space and not find some available Wi-Fi… isn’t that amazing? Yes and no. Publicly available internet access is a great benefit, but it requires you to exercise a lot of caution.
- Don’t connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot just because it has the name of the establishment you are in.
- Ask someone who works there what the network is named. It is very easy for someone to create a hotspot with a similar name and fool people into joining it.
- Even if you join the legitimate hotspot you need to continue to exercise caution! There are many tools available that allow a hacker to monitor your Wi-Fi traffic.
One tool that you can use to help prevent this is a VPN service every time you join a public network. “But I’m only using my smartphone” you say… all mobile devices (laptop, tablet, phone) are vulnerable, so always exercise caution when connecting in public!
Step 3: Encrypt your devices
Sean | Chief Technology Architect: I’ll have to admit, I’m a slave to routine. I have a certain way of doing things and with all the multitude of things I have to accomplish every day, my routine helps me not forget stuff. So, when I break my routine, like when I travel, I sometimes can misplace things. Being in the IT support world, some of the things I misplace could have sensitive customer information on it, so the thought of losing something can be a bit scary. This is why it is so important that anything you store files on, is encrypted.
Whether it’s your laptop, smartphone, tablet devices, portal hard drives, or even your desktop (yes, I know, you don’t travel with your desktop), everything should be encrypted. Most devices today have some sort of built-in encryption – Bit locker for Windows 10 is pretty easy to setup and is enhanced if your laptop has a TPM chip in it. You can use Bit locker to encrypt portable thumb drives and hard drives. My smartphone has built in encryption and security. Losing electronic equipment is painful, losing electronic equipment that might have sensitive information on it, can destroy your or your company’s reputation or even worse lead to legal trouble. Encryption has become easier and easier to setup. Be smart, encrypt your compute devices and take some worry out of the holiday season.
Step 4: Know where your devices are all the time
Robert | Business Development Director: It is important that you be careful not to lose or have your items stolen while in the airport. When traveling during the holidays with your work/personal technology remember the following:
- Backup your data before the trip (just in case something does happen to your device(s)).
- Remember all necessary cables, cords and charging needs.
- Try to pack a technology bag/backpack for easy transportation, accountability and inventory during your trip.
- If you are in a hurry, slow down as this is when you most commonly lose or forget your technology.
Have a Great Thanksgiving, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!