Top Cybersecurity Tips for Business Travel in 2024

Business travel can be an exciting opportunity to explore new places, meet new people, and grow your business. But while you're out there chasing your dreams, rushing to catch a flight or make it to your next meeting; cybercriminals lurk in the shadows, waiting to prey on unsuspecting travelers. The last thing you want is to come home from a business trip to discover your company's confidential data has been compromised, so let's take a look at some practical steps you can take to protect yourself and your business while on the go. We'll cover everything from using secure Wi-Fi networks to safeguarding your devices so you can travel with peace of mind. Whether you're a seasoned business traveler or just getting started, keep reading to learn how to stay safe and secure while on the road.

9 Cybersecurity Tips for Business Travel


1. Back up data

You stand in the airport security checkpoint line and start the hurried process of placing your laptop in a separate bin. You shuffle it from under your arm and into the bin when, halfway through that thought, you remember your tablet in your carry-on. You quickly reach for your carry-on bag, and your laptop slips from under your arm and crashes to the airport floor, shattering to pieces. This nightmare scenario can happen to anyone, which is why it's crucial to take necessary precautions. Backing up your data ensures you have a copy of all your important files and documents in case anything goes wrong. Before your trip, create a backup of all your data on an external hard drive or cloud-based storage service and consider the security of your backup. If you're using a cloud-based service, choose a reputable provider and enable two-factor authentication to protect your data from potential breaches. Consider encrypting the data to prevent unauthorized access if you're using an external hard drive.

2. Update Software

After a long day jet-setting and shuffling in and out of unfamiliar places, opening your laptop when you finally reach your destination can help you settle into a familiar flow - but not if your system is running slowly, applications are freezing, or you find you can't access certain features you're used to. Make sure to add "Update Software" to your pre-trip checklist. Keeping your device's applications updated with the latest software is crucial, particularly for the frequently used ones. It is essential to install any security patches that address the application's vulnerabilities and install general updates, which may include performance improvements, bug fixes, and new features. It's always a good idea to take care of these updates before your trip just in case the update takes longer than expected (we've all been there) or if you run into any issues. By keeping your applications up-to-date, you can ensure that your device runs smoothly, your data is protected, and you can be seamlessly productive. 

3. Remove Sensitive Data

When packing for a business trip, most of us tend to overpack, thinking we might need everything we own while away. But when it comes to cybersecurity and protecting your data, packing less goes a long way. The more devices, documents, and payment methods you bring, the more opportunities for them to be lost, stolen, or compromised. This could include credit cards you won't be using, important documents that can stay safely at home, or even personal information that could be at risk if it falls into the wrong hands. Before you depart for your trip, take some time to review your wallet and determine which credit cards you'll actually need while you're away. Leave behind any cards or information that you won't need to minimize the risk of losing them or having them stolen. If you're bringing a laptop, ask yourself if you really need to bring your tablet as well. When you have "just the essentials" to keep an eye on, it's easier to notice if one goes missing so you can swing into action as quickly as possible to secure your data and prevent any potential data breaches.

4. Use a VPN

When you travel for business, connecting to public Wi-Fi or hotspots is almost inevitable, but when it's time to crack open the laptop to email a colleague or partner that confidential attachment using the hotel's Wi-Fi network - don't do it without a VPN. Without a VPN, your data is vulnerable to being intercepted by cybercriminals who may be monitoring the same network. VPNs use encryption to protect your data and communication, making it difficult for cybercriminals to steal your information. It's also important to choose the right VPN that don't have certain features implemented correctly. Always remember to use a VPN while on business travel to protect yourself and your company's data from cyber threats.

5. Which Wi-Fi is Which?

Connecting to public Wi-Fi, you can never be too careful.  Let's say you are staying at a Hilton hotel and want to connect to their Wi-Fi. If you open the list of available networks and see multiple Hilton networks to choose from, always check with the hotel staff whether it's "Hilton Wi-Fi," "Hilton Public Wi-Fi," or "Hilton Guest Wi-Fi" before connecting. Hackers often set up fake Wi-Fi networks that look like the real thing but are actually designed to steal your personal information. To avoid falling prey to these scams, always be on the lookout for multiple Wi-Fi names that are similar to the one you are trying to connect to, and verify the correct one to use with a staff member whenever possible. 

6. Beware "The Pair"

You're back in that crowded airport, waiting for your flight, but you have to hop on a quick video call with a colleague before you start boarding. You find a decent place to set up your laptop, rummage around in your carry-on bag (again) for your wireless earbuds, and then get a notification on your laptop asking you to pair with an unknown device. You assume it's your headphones and click "Connect" without giving it a second thought. Did you just fall victim to a Bluetooth hacking attack, exposing your personal information for identity theft, financial fraud, and other malicious purposes? To avoid falling prey to such attacks, it's essential to turn off Bluetooth when you're not using it, especially in public places where it's easier for hackers to launch an attack. Most operating systems on our laptops, tablets, and smartphones recognize and automatically connect to frequently used Bluetooth devices - so when you're traveling and get a notification asking to pair - always think twice and turn off Bluetooth between sessions. 

7. Avoid Tap to Pay

Did you know that simply tapping your device onto an unknown device can put your sensitive data at risk? Attackers can gain control of your device through NFC (Near Field Communication), by placing a malicious device in close proximity to your device, such as in a crowded airport or coffee shop. Once your device comes into contact with the malicious device, the attacker can use this connection to install malware, steal sensitive information, or take control of your device remotely. Only tap your device to trusted devices or those you know are safe. For extra protection, disable NFC "tap to pay" when you don't need it. Going outside the US? NFC scams can occur in any country, but some countries may have a higher incidence of these types of scams due to varying levels of security regulations or a higher rate of contactless payment adoption. So, the next time you're on the go for business and are tempted to tap your device to another unknown device, think twice. If you need to use it with a trusted device, take care of business and turn it off when you're done. 

8. Beware of Shared Charging Stations

You made it to your gate, and after a full day on the go, your phone's battery is running low. You spot a charging station with an open spot and quickly plug in your device. Again, with convenience comes risk. Unbeknownst to you, the charging station has a data transfer cable, and a nearby hacker can access your contacts, emails, and other sensitive data. If you need to power up at the airport or anywhere with a shared charging station, be sure to use a charge-only cable that does not transmit data. Charge-only cables ensure that your device only receives power and does not transfer any sensitive data to the charging station. 

9. Don't Leave Your Device Unlocked

When traveling for business, you're likely carrying sensitive information and important documents on your laptop or phone. That's why it's crucial to take steps to protect your device from theft or unauthorized access. One simple way to do this is to always "lock" or "screen-lock" your device when you step away, whether you're in a public space like an airport or a hotel lobby or in a private space like your hotel room. The screen lock security feature is built into most laptops, smartphones, and tablets. When you lock your device, you prevent anyone from accessing your information without the proper credentials, such as a password, PIN, fingerprint, or face ID. This is an effective way to keep your data safe from unauthorized access, especially in public spaces or traveling for business.


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