While the Summer vacation travel season has pretty much come to an end, this is the time of year when business travel starts to move into high gear, and since on-the-road mobile device security is an important part of managed IT support, we thought we would share some insights as to how to keep your Internet usage safe when on the road. (Some of these suggestions apply just as well to vacation travel.)
Mobile Device Security – Free Public WIFI
There is almost no end to the number of ways to screw up. Sorry about that, but it’s true. Using free public WIFI at a coffee shop or restaurant is one. Don’t assume that they are providing adequate protection. Instead, assume that someone sitting nearby in the same establishment is “sniffing” around collecting the information that you are passing back and forth, including your email, bank accounts, etc. Capturing that information is not that difficult when proper protections aren’t in place and these people can walk away with your login info, account numbers, email contacts, etc. If you’re working on business documents, they can also be grabbed. (The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides some great cyber protection insights on their website.)
This writer’s email account info and contacts were once stolen and I received an urgent email message from a dear friend stating that he had taken a last-minute weekend vacation trip to London and in a terrible misunderstanding, he had been arrested and needed $2,000 for bail. There was no way to call him, but he provided the routing number and account information for an international money transfer. In an odd twist of fate, this dear friend had passed away just two weeks before and, if he ended up in “the bad place”, no amount of bail money was going to help him! So, no, I didn’t send the money. But there are bad people committing cyber-crimes every minute of every day.
Securing Your Internet Traffic on Public WiFi.
By using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) every time you log in to a public network, you are protecting yourself. And it’s easy. CNET’s VPN referral page is a great resource for finding a VPN you can use. (CNETis a great technology referral source, in general.) Once this is done, all your traffic, both in and out, will be encrypted. You can also check with your internet provider.
Another step in protecting yourself is to make sure that the sites you use are visiting are “padlocked”…look for that little green padlock. These sites have enabled HTTPS for “secure socket layering”.
Geo-Tagging Travel Photos
While geo-tagging is a bigger problem while traveling with the whole family, you can still get in trouble when traveling for business. The photo of the great restaurant you took a client to, or the cute doggie your five-year-old would love, can also tip off strangers that daddy (or mommy) is not home. And the incredible images of that family of tigers can tell criminals you are in Africa and away from the house for two weeks. Wait until you get home to post photos from your travels.
Leaving Phones, Tablets, and Laptops Unattended
Just turning your back for a few seconds, or walking away just a few feet, even in a “safe” neighborhood, can give an accomplished professional thief the opening he/she needs. Devices that are used for business, even those that are privately owned, should be managed by a Mobile Device Management program and through Multi-Factor Encryption
. Multi-Factor Encryption makes it much harder to break into your device and Mobile Device Management enables your office back home to wipe your device clean of sensitive company information if it is lost or stolen.
Yes, following these mobile device security protocols can be a royal pain in the butt, but only a tiny fraction of the pain and anguish you can go through if you get caught up in one of these schemes. Be smart. Be safe.
At Novatech we have spent the past 25 years keeping our clients and their employees safe and secure. Our more than 55 IT Professionals are experts in virtual every aspect on Internet security, both in the office, at home and on the road. Contact us at 770.569.4600 or visit us at www.novatech.net