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People tend to feel pretty secure when working at the office, or even at their homes. That’s because they’re in familiar environments where individuals generally trust one another, as well as the internet connections and devices they use.
But that changes when people travel. All of the sudden, workers become dependent on things like public Wi-Fi connections. They’re forced to use their laptop in different places, surrounded by people they don’t really know.
This might not be a problem for people on vacation. After all, an ideal vacation or holiday for many people could involve leaving their devices (especially stuff they use for work) at home. But business travelers don’t have the luxury of leaving their devices behind.
That’s why the recent bans on bringing laptops into airplane cabins while flying to the US from some countries is problematic for companies with employees that travel. It’s essentially forcing business travelers into a position where they can’t maintain their control over these devices, but leaving them behind isn’t an option.
Besides the obvious inconvenience of limiting the ability of business travelers to work on the plane, checking valuable devices has traditionally been poor security advice. A 2014 investigation from CNN found over 30,000 lost property claims at US airports, with most of those going missing from checked luggage. Some airlines have even advised passengers to avoid packing electronic devices in their checked luggage.
And with reports suggesting that this ban might be extended to include some flights to the US from Europe, it’s best to start paying attention to how companies can help employees protect devices and data while they’re on the road.
You can check out this blog post for some tips on going through airport security. But here’s a few additional pieces of security advice F-Secure Security Advisor Sean Sullivan has for business travelers:
1. Use external or cloud storage
You might have to check your laptop. But you don’t have to check your data. So all you have to do is keep the two separate.
There are a few ways you can go about this. You can remove your hard drive from your laptop (some laptops are designed to make this easy). You can also make use of external hard drives or SD cards. SD cards are small and easy to carry around, making them a good option. Using cloud-based services can also help.
All of these have their own security risks, but all can be addressed with the right precautions. If you do this, make sure you remove any sensitive data from your laptop, and stay logged out of your accounts.
2. Use a burner and iPod Touch instead of your regular smart phone
Using a burner is good advice. But it can be troublesome. Many people have become dependent on the “smarts” provided by smart phones.
A good alternative is to use an iPod Touch combined with a burner provided by your IT department. The iPod Touch can basically provide all the apps you’d find in an iPhone, but lacks the mobile connection. This gives you much of the same mobility and convenience as your smart phone, but without the radio footprint. Plus, you can carry it with you wherever you go, making it a great place to store sensitive data.
3. Encrypt everything
Encryption can protect your information in a variety of ways. Encrypting your internet traffic can prevent people from spying on your data over insecure networks. Encrypting the data on your devices can prevent people from accessing it if your devices are lost/stolen.
Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS all come with encryption options baked in. Most large companies already use VPNs, and there are inexpensive, reliable commercial options available for companies that don’t. So there’s no real reason not use encryption while you’re at home or on the road.