Defend Your Data!

Anyone with a credit card number or online access becomes a target for data thieves. Business travel makes you especially vulnerable to potential hackers because you’re more likely to be using credit or online access in places where cyber criminals thrive: retail stores, bars, restaurants, and hotels. Those types of businesses accounted for 78% of all data breaches in 2013, according to the 2013 Trustwave Global Security Report.

Fortunately, you can take action to defend your data. Follow these essential tips from data safety experts:

Tip #1: Travel only with the essentials.

Data protection begins before your trip! Take only the data, ID, and devices you absolutely need, and leave the rest at home. You should leave removable media like discs and thumb drives. If possible, use company “loaners” such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones — and limit the data stored on them to your bare necessities.

Tip #2: Practice Wi-Fi safety.

Public or “open” Wi-Fi is a digital invitation to data crooks. Never send sensitive data using a public Wi-Fi connection. If possible, avoid public or multi-user Wi-Fi connections and try to use a virtual private network (VPN) or encrypted connection. Never accept a connection from a network you don’t recognize. And don’t forget to turn off the Wi-Fi feature on your devices whenever you’re not using them.

Tip #3: Ensure your computer is secure.

The best way to secure your computer against cybercriminals is to employ a multi-application approach. Reinforce your security by using a variety of security technologies — such as hardware-based encryption, antivirus programs, malware protection, data protection, and backup software.

Tip #4: Protect your smartphone from unauthorized access.

Once a criminal has gained physical or digital access to your smartphone, the thief can find your personal data quickly. That’s why your first step in smartphone protection should be to use the device’s screen-lock authentication feature. Be sure to set your phone to re-lock after a set period of time.

Many smartphones have lock, find, and wipe features that can either alert you when someone has used a certain number of authentication attempts; some even email you GPS coordinates of the phone’s location or erase all data stored on the device. Another type of device sounds an alarm when your smartphone reaches a certain distance from you.

Tip #5: Be a credit-conscious traveler.

Before your trip, notify your credit card company about your upcoming travel and destination. Use a business credit card with a credit limit that’s close to the amount you expect to spend during your trip. A lower credit limit restricts the damage hackers can cause should your number be compromised. If possible, use a chip-and-pin credit card to increase security for your in-person transactions.

Data thieves can be lurking anywhere, waiting for the opportunity to steal vital information that can cause significant damage — from lost funds to identity theft to corporate data breaches. Using these data security practices can bolster your defenses against cyber criminals, especially when you’re on the road.


Got any other tips for protecting data on the road?

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