One of the biggest risks of business travel has always been theft but, until a few years ago, the items that were at risk were typically in the physical possession of the traveler. If a theft occurred, the total loss was most often limited to the value of the stolen goods. This paradigm has now changed completely as people travelling for business regularly access their company’s network using their personally owned mobile devices.
This practice, referred to as BYOD, can improve the productivity of road warriors dramatically, but also increases to potential for loss if the theft of a device facilitates an intrusion of the company’s network. This potential for devastating losses necessitates that steps should be taken both before and during business trips to minimize the risk of losing a network connected device or having it hacked.
- Lengthen passwords to include characters, numbers, caps, etc. – Easy to crack passwords are a little bit like walking down the street with money hanging out of your pocket; it makes you an easy target. Adding diversity to a password using characters and other options can serve as the first line of defense for your device. Changing your password when you’re home at the end of the trip is also advisable.
- Make sure that anti-virus protection is up to date – The developers of anti-virus software are constantly sending out security patches to fix vulnerabilities that have been detected in operating systems as well as applications. Before each trip, make sure to download new patches and upgrades to your devices to ensure maximum protection.
- Be wary of Wi-Fi hotspots – Travel often includes downtime, whether it’s waiting for the next flight, unscheduled time in the hotel, or a couple of hours between meetings. If you use open hotspots while travelling, be especially careful of pop-ups, which can be sent through either a legitimate open system or an illicit hotspot. In either case, the nefarious pop-ups can be programmed with malware designed to broadcast data, access codes, and other information back to the hackers.
- Log off – Two primary ways that devices are lost or stolen is when they are left unattended or are left behind. A lost/stolen device that is still logged on can provide an easy route to all kinds of information, including access to the company network.
The advent of BYOD has resulted in many benefits but there are dangers as well, which tend to be escalated on business trips. Following these steps can help road warriors secure their devices as well as the sensitive information they hold, which can be far more valuable than the device itself.