For the busy business traveler, data protection is a major concern. Thanks to more powerful mobile devices and laptops, and almost ever-present wireless internet connections, conducting business while traveling is now easier than ever. But there are still many problems to be confronted. Our mobile devices, laden with sensitive information, can easily be lost or stolen. Even when they remain in our possession, the information within can be accessed by thieves through unsecured Wi-Fi networks.
You do not have to spend a lot of money to keep your information safe from thieves. Here are three ways to stay secure without spending a lot of money.
Keep your devices protected
The biggest risk to your data comes from the loss or theft of your wireless devices. Insurance covers the loss of the device, but does not account for the sensitive information that was stored inside. The first step to protecting your devices is to lock y our screen with a personal ID number. You can also install GPS software to help you find your device should it be stolen, or help you delete the information from the device if it is gone forever.
A couple of lower cost products to keep your devices and information safe are Lojack for Laptops and Lookout Mobile Security for smartphones and tablets. Apple users have a number of solutions as well including Find My Mac from Apple. Full encryption software is important for protecting laptop data, making the data unreadable for unauthorized users. Several free encryption programs are available, including BitLocker and TruCrypt. For Mac users with the Lion operating system there is FileVault2. Some other low tech protection tools include a laptop lock, a privacy screen to keep onlookers from peeking in.
Use public Wi-Fi cautiously
WiFi seems to be everywhere, and it is very tempting to just jump right on to whichever free network is nearby. But, information that is transmitted via Wi-Fi is very vulnerable to being swiped by thieves with sniffer equipment and software. Wise hackers could also convince you to connect to their computers by disguising them as a Wi-Fi hotspot.|
For data protection purposes, never enter any sensitive information unless you see https in the address bar. Virtual private network (VPN) software can be very beneficial to travelers by encrypting all online communication. You can have a VPN set up on all of your company computers by IT security professionals, or purchase software that will do the trick for under $20 a month. There are also VPN apps available for smartphones and tablets
Avoid using public computers in libraries, cafes, and hotels. Public computers usually do not receive timely ITsecurity updates. Their antivirus software and other security tools are almost always out of date. These computers are therefore likely to be infected with malware and keyloggers that can steal user names and passwords.
If you have to use a public computer, ask about what protection measures are installed. The more expensive cafes and hotels do a better job of maintaining their computers, sometimes removing personal data every time a user signs off.
It is never a good idea to use these computers to access you bank account, use your credit card, or use Web-based email. This could all open you up to fraud and scams. Using social networks on these computers can get your account hijacked and subject your friends to spam.
While traveling on business, you need to stick to your own devices and reliable Wi-Fi connections for data protection. Whenever it is possible, further protect yourself with encryption technology. And, do not conduct any important financial business on a public computer.