If you travel for work you are a target. Let me say that again. YOU. ARE. A. TARGET. Each year, cyber crime continues to rise. Business travelers (and all travelers for that matter) are attractive targets. This is why I’ve created the 7 Cyber Security Travel Tips designed to keep you from getting hacked while you travel.
What do you get in this article?
You will get seven actionable & practical cyber security travel tips that travelers can start employing right away.
What if I don’t travel for work?
No worries. The cyber security travels tips I offer here apply equally to leisure travelers as well as business travelers. The principles are largely the same. With the cyber security travel tips listed here, travelers of all types will be on their way to protecting themselves during their travels.
What Do I Know about Security?
As a frequent business traveler who has spent much of my career in and around the cyber security industry I can offer some unique perspectives here.
During my career I’ve had the opportunity to help design and implement cyber security solutions for some of the largest law enforcement and fire agencies in the country – all while traveling to and fro across this country.
I’ve extensively published articles on cyber security, participated in cyber security standards creation bodies, and taught cyber security to college students. I also hold a CISSP and a Masters of Science in Information Technology w/ an emphasis in Cyber Security.
Does this make me an expert? Hell no… It’d be foolish for anyone to claim that. But, what I’ve seen, heard or experienced can help you avoid getting hacked on your trip which is exactly why I created this list of Cyber Security Travel Tips.
The Cyber Security Travel Tips
Let’s get to it. This list of 7 cyber security travel tips, when followed correctly, will minimize the chances of you getting hacked while traveling.
Here’s a quick summary before we dive deeper.
- Turn on your local firewall for all devices
- Avoid risky websites
- Be careful w/ public wi-fi
- Whole disk encrypt your devices
- Make sure you use a security mechanism on your phone
- Get a screen privacy protector for your laptop
- Be careful what you are talking about in public
Cyber security travel tips #1: Turn on your local firewall for all devices
Always keep your local firewall on – especially when traveling. You must assume that the network your are connecting to is compromised. Even if the hotel or cafe employs a firewall of their own, you must assume it’s unsafe and employ your own locally.
Nowadays you can get firewall software for your laptop or phone. In fact, Windows has it’s own local firewall and most antivirus products these days offer something as well.
Get it. Install it. Enable it. Never turn it off!
If it blocks you from something you probably didn’t need to visit it anyways! This is probably the most important cyber security travel tip!
And by the way…I am going to assume you have antivirus installed. I am not not even adding it to the list because it should be as common as breathing!
Cyber security travel tips #2: Avoid risky websites
Whether you are using your work laptop or personal laptop or even your phone, be careful visiting risky sites.
Often shady websites are infected with malware that can wreak havoc on your device. For example, SecurityWeek reported that there are 18.5 million websites with infected malware. That’s an insane amount of websites that could have nefarious code ready to penetrate your computer.
Yikes! Watch something on Netflix instead! And, of course, always have antivirus software installed and your local firewall on!
Cyber security travel tips #3: Be careful with public
Wi-fi is fairly ubiquitous these days and honestly that’s pretty nice! But you really have to be careful with free wifi.
Make sure the wi-fi you are connecting to at least appears legitimate, and ensure that you have your firewall turned on, antivirus software installed, and whenever possible connect via a VPN before sending any important information.
Cyber security travel tips #4: Whole disk encrypt your devices
What happens if you lose one of your devices? The last thing you want is for someone to gain access to all of your files – especially if it’s a business laptop or work phone.
Use whole disk encryption to ensure your hard drives are darn near impenetrable.
Whole disk encryption cloaks your hard drive through cryptography making it difficult (although not mathematically impossible) to gain access to your drive without your user name / password, etc.
Cyber security travel tips #5: Make sure you use a security mechanism on your phone or laptop
Whether it’s a pin code for your phone or a password for your laptop make sure you have secured access to your devices. And make sure it is a strong password (and make sure it’s not on this list of the most commonly used passwords…lol!).
For your phone, use a pin code or perhaps a biometric security mechanism like fingerprint or face scan.
The key point here is that you need to make sure that something is required to gain access to your devices. They should not be unsecured.
While we are at it, don’t share whatever it is with anyone or write it down (your password, pin, etc, are private).
Cyber security travel tips #6: Get a screen privacy protector for your laptop
Working on the plane sounds like a great idea. And if you are like me you are often on the go all day and the plane ride is first chance you have to catch up on email or put the final touches on that presentation you need to give.
I can’t tell you how many “confidential” presentations I’ve seen from people working on their laptop in the row catty corner to mine.
Or how many emails I’ve seen about sensitive stuff (don’t even get me started on the people who look at porn on planes…wth!).
Get a screen privacy protector (like below) which obscures your laptop from prying eyes while you hammer out another email or submit that quote you need to get to the customer. Or even book your next flight.
Cyber security travel tips #7: Be careful what you are talking about in public
I’ve overhead incredibly confidential conversations on airplanes and in coffee shops or hotel lounges. Loud talkers sharing company secrets and strategies. Whenever this occurs I either try to leave the situation or let them know I can hear them. This is just professional courtesy.
I recall one trip where the fellas in front me turned out to be my competitors. They were having a conversation about key deal they were working. I politely let them know I worked for their competitor and they probably didn’t want me to hear what they were talking about.
They were very appreciative! We were all heading to a conference and they should have known that other industry folks would be on the plane with them.
I am also sure to keep my voice down and be aware of my surroundings when having “work” conversations. This is especially important when you work for a publicly traded company.
Final Thoughts on Cyber Security and Travel
The risks have never been greater these days, but avoiding travel is difficult and avoiding things like the internet are impossible.
By following these cyber security travel tips, you can help minimize the chances of you getting hacked while you are on your business trip or vacation!
Thanks for reading and we’d love to hear from you. Join us on social media or leave us a comment, below. We’d love to hear from you.
By the way, if you are interested in more travel tips and travel advice, you might be like these great articles:
- 147 Business Travel Tips – the ultimate list of road warrior tips & tricks
- Ultimate Bitcoin Travel Directory: How and where to use crypto for travel
- How to get over jet lag while you travel – 11 Tips every traveler needs to know
- The 7 Habits of the Healthy Business Traveler: How to Stay Healthy While Traveling for Business
- 11 Packing Tips Every Traveler Needs to Know
- Best Gifts for Business Travelers – The 2019 Gift Guide for Road Warriors