Technology has made it easy to work from just about any location where you can get an internet connection. However, working from your home office that’s been set up to be secure isn’t the same as when you’re traveling. There are a few things you can do before and during your trip to make sure that you can connect to your corporate accounts and data securely so you can work from anywhere.
Before Your Trip
Notify Your IT Department
The first thing you need to do when you know you’re going to need to work while you’re traveling is to let your IT department know about it. They may have to make some changes to your security settings. For example, if you’re going out of the country, you may not be able to connect if there are geo-blockers set up to block traffic from outside the US.
Activate Device Locks and Identity Management Tools
Device locks can be annoying but using them creates a layer of defense if your laptop or smartphone is stolen. Likewise, using strong passwords and multi-factor authentication (MFA) protects your accounts from being compromised. Consider using a password manager to keep your credentials locked up.
Limit File Storage on Your Device
Work files are better stored in your company’s cloud environment than on your laptop. Do an audit and transfer what you find to your corporate IT network. If you must work with files that are on your laptop, enable device encryption so your info is scrambled for anyone except you.
Update and Patch Software
Unpatched software is a favorite method for cyber-criminals to get access to a device so make sure all your software and operating systems are updated before you go. Your IT department may have patching set up on a schedule so ask them to push the latest updates before you go. Don’t overlook third-party software in addition to your normal line-of-business and Microsoft apps.
Set Up a Method of Secure Connection
Make sure that you have a method to access your corporate network with a secure connection. This could be via a virtual private network (VPN) or virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). If you decide to use a mobile hotspot, get it set up before you go.
Know What to Do If Your Device is Stolen
Have a plan so that you know what to do if your laptop or phone gets lost or stolen. Think through how you’re going to contact your IT department if you don’t have your phone. Part of your plan should include having a list of emergency contact information that is stored separate from your devices. Ask your IT team about tools that can track your devices, lock, and wipe them remotely.
While You’re on Your Trip
Disable Automatic Features
When you’re ready to depart, disable auto-fill and auto-logon features on your web browsers and applications. Turn off Wi-Fi auto-connect so that your device won’t connect to Wi-Fi networks without your knowledge and so that you stay under the radar of hackers who are monitoring that kind of activity.
Don’t Use Unsecured Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi is notorious for being a hacker playground. Hotel Wi-Fi isn’t much better when the network is shared among guests. Utilize the secure connection method that you set up before you left home. Likewise, avoid using public computers.
Be Aware of Shoulder Surfing
When you’re working in a public place, be aware of people around you who might be looking over your shoulder at what you’re doing. Use a privacy screen protector to make viewing your screen harder for a passer-by. If you don’t have one, put purchasing one on your pre-trip list of things to do.
Keep Your Stuff with You
If your devices aren’t with you, lock them up. Enough said.
Avoid Public Charging Stations
Public charging stations were created to be a convenience, but they’ve become a convenient place for hackers to spread malware. If you have to use a public charging station, use a “charge-only” cable that cannot transfer data. Better yet, bring your own USB chargers and plug them into a wall outlet.
Don’t Overshare on Social Media
Don’t put your travel plans all over social media. Be careful about how much you share because it can give hackers information that they can use in an attack. For example, they might use your absence as an opportune time to send a spear phishing email to someone in your company with instructions on changing your bank info or something like that.
When You Get Home
When you return from your trip, let your IT department know you’re back. They may want to run a virus scan, monitor for suspicious activity and backup any new data if you stored it on your machine. Also consider:
- Changing your passwords
- Reviewing account activity
- Clear your browser history
- Remove or disable travel related apps
Secure Travel Takes Prep and Attention
It takes a little preparation and mindfulness of your behavior to stay secure while you’re traveling but it can be done. Best to make the effort and NOT get compromised than to have the hassle and stress of having to deal with the impact of a cyber-attack.
Cybersecurity Guidance and Services
At XPERTECHS, we work with companies to help them manage the risk of cyber crime by creating multi-layered strategies that match up with their risk profile and tolerance. If you’re not confident that your IT team is meeting the risks your company faces, we should talk.