Business travelers are among the most vulnerable targets for cybercrime. After all, it’s easy to get distracted when you’re in unfamiliar surroundings. And having to rely on unfamiliar networks presents added security risks. After a long, arduous day of travelling, when all you want to do is get to your hotel room and unwind, the last thing you want to think about is cybersecurity.
Chances are good, however, that while you’re trying to relax, cybercriminals are looking for vulnerabilities to exploit—like poorly secured networks or other personally identifiable information. They can also set up decoy “evil twin” Wi-Fi hotspots to steal private information
or install malware on your device.
Cybercrime is getting more sophisticated all the time. This month at the National Business Aviation Association’s International Operators Conference in Las Vegas, chief information security officer Keith Turpin warned attendees of a new trend. International cybercriminal gangs are targeting business travelers in Asia, Europe and the Middle East in an effort to learn what their companies are doing so they can use the inside information for stock trading. The bounty is billions in illicit profits.
Even hotel rooms aren’t safe. Gangs of attackers are now resorting to duplicating keys so they can enter hotel rooms and steal or install malware on unattended personal devices while housekeeping isn’t looking.
Airports are prime targets
According to usda.gov, approximately 12,000 laptops are stolen from airports each week. So, it’s important to make sure all devices are close at hand at all times—physically secured in a pocket or purse. A good rule of thumb is to keep your laptop case between or next to your feet, so a stranger can’t grab it when you’re not looking. And steer clear of charging stations, which are more susceptible to hackers.
All personal devices should be password-protected, at the very least, and multifactor authentication is strongly advised. It’s also a good idea to update personal equipment with the latest operating system and application patches before you travel—to reduce security loopholes attackers can take advantage of.
A few do’s and don’ts to play it safe
- Never use public Wi-Fi. To ensure data privacy, use your phone as a hotspot or purchase a GSM hot spot. Remember, you’re not being offered free Wi-Fi access for nothing. If it’s free, chances are you’re the product.
- Turn off location tracking on your social media accounts so cybercriminals won’t know your whereabouts.
- Leave the “do not disturb” sign on the door when you’re not in your hotel room to keep potential invaders guessing.
- Use FlexApp encryption for conversations with home to prevent Skype hacking and other intrusions.
- Install laptop-tracking software to increase the chance of retrieving your computer if it’s lost or stolen.
- Apply for TSA Pre for domestic travel and Global Entry for international travel. This will allow you to keep your laptop in your briefcase—and eliminate the need to take off your shoes, jackets and other outer clothing—while you’re going through airport security. You’ll get in and out of the airport faster with fewer security risks.
This is by no means a complete list. For more useful tips, check out the U.S. State Department’s guide for international travelers, https://travel.state.gov, and a definitive book on the subject, Understanding Personal Security and Risk: A Guide for Business Travelers by Charles E. Goslin.
The more you know, the better prepared you’ll be.