Proactive Cybersecurity While Traveling

Topics: Cyber Liability

Technology continues to have a major impact on our daily lives. We use technology to connect with others, learn about the world around us, maintain our finances, complete daily tasks associated with our careers and, of course, for entertainment purposes. There’s no going back to how life was before the internet, and while utilizing technology makes our lives easier in many ways, it also poses a variety of risks that cannot be ignored.

In the Global Risks Report 2019, survey respondents stated that they expected an increase in the number of cyberattacks that lead to the theft of money and data, as well as disruption of operations. Organizations of all sizes have been affected by data breaches, with some of the biggest names hit over the past few years including Equifax and Marriott Starwood. Personal data breaches also continue to increase; for example, 150 million users of the MyFitnessPal application and 50 million Facebook users experienced breaches in 2018.


What Does Proactive Cybersecurity Mean?

It’s estimated that cybercrime will cost the world $6 trillion annually by the year 2021, up from $3 trillion in 2015. Global IP networked devices or connections will also increase from $16.3 billion in 2015 to more than $26 billion by 2020. This is why it’s so important to create a proactive cybersecurity plan rather than simply a reactive strategy.

A proactive strategy starts with simply anticipating that your organization will be the victim of a cyberattack. Most businesses create a data breach response plan, which of course is an essential element in mitigating costs and damages following an attack, but more importantly, they should understand how they could be at risk in the first place. A proactive strategy can actively monitor specific threats and create processes to help reduce them. In most cases, proactive cybersecurity is the least expensive and most impactful security measure that can protect a business and its employees.


Cybersecurity Risks Business Travelers Face

business travelers using cybersecurity tips to stay safe

Part of a proactive cybersecurity plan includes making sure employees understand what threats they could be subject to not only on company premises but also when they’re traveling outside of the office. Business travelers can be more vulnerable to a cyberattack than those traveling for pleasure, mainly due to the fact that they often carry laptops, cell phones and tablets with sensitive data on them. Those who travel internationally can be even more at risk due to strict customs regulations that allow officials to inspect electronic devices, including asking for passwords to access hard drives.

Some of the other common cybersecurity risks travelers encounter include:
  • Theft: One laptop is stolen every 53 seconds, and 80% of the cost of a lost laptop is the result of a data breach. It’s important to keep in mind that 24% of devices are stolen from conferences. This is why it’s so vital that laptops with sensitive data are never left unattended at a conference or in a hotel room.
  • Unsecured Wi-Fi: Free Wi-Fi offered in airports, restaurants, hotels and other buildings make it convenient for travelers to stay connected and complete tasks while on the road. However, these unsecure networks often allow easy access for cybercriminals to internet-enabled devices.
  • Publicly accessible computers: Hotel business centers often provide community computers that anyone can use, such as for quickly printing presentations or checking email. Keep in mind these devices may not have updated operating systems and anti-virus software, making it easy for hackers to infect them with malicious viruses or software.
  • Screen visability: Be aware of how others may see the screen of your phone or laptop. Working in a place with your back against a wall makes it more difficult for curious onlookers to see your work. If possible, try to avoid working in economy class especially if located on a middle seat or aisle seat. Due to the close proximity of these seats, many people may be able to see your screen easily.


Preventing Data Breaches While Traveling



If you travel frequently for business as many agents do, here are a few of the top cybersecurity tips that can ensure sensitive data stays safe while you’re on the road:

Keep software updated

Keeping your laptop, cell phone and tablets updated with the latest software can help safeguard each device. It allows them to be better defended against malware, as software updates often include patches that cover holes in security you may not have even known about.

Lock down devices

Whenever devices aren’t being actively used, get into the habit of locking them. Should you misplace them or if they are stolen, locking down devices is the first line of defense against a cyberattack.

Leave main devices and/or sensitive data at home

When possible, travel with alternative devices that do not contain sensitive information. At the very least, do not locally store sensitive data on your devices if you’ll be traveling with them. Use the cloud for data storage Keep data stored on the cloud rather than on your devices’ hard drives or desktop where it can be easily accessible to cybercriminals. “I’m a big fan of cloud-based services for storage of files and keeping the amount of local business data on the end-point to the absolute minimum,” says Ian Thornton-Trump, head of cybersecurity at AmTrust International. “In any case, the mobile device should have full-disk encryption enabled – that could be the difference between paying nothing to a regulator or paying a large fine.”

Disable auto-connect and Bluetooth and use free Wi-Fi cautiously

Many devices have a setting that allows them to automatically connect to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. When Bluetooth is left enabled, hackers nearby may be able to connect to them and steal information from the devices. Always ask your hotel or host what their security protocols are when it comes to the free Wi-Fi they offer, too, as you should never use unencrypted networks. If you absolutely must use free Wi-Fi, do not access sensitive data or your personal accounts while doing so.

Use a virtual private network VPN

A VPN encrypts transmitted data over a Wi-Fi connection to help protect it from being intercepted or tampered with by a cybercriminal. Use a trusted and reputable VPN provider to help mitigate security risks while out of the office.

Update passwords before and after the trip

Creating strong passwords and updating them regularly can help you avoid a cybersecurity breach both at home and while traveling. Before heading out for a trip, change all passwords, and make sure they are different from what you’ve previously used. When you return from the trip, change them again.

Be careful with physical copies of important documents

You should not only bring along hard copies of the documents needed to travel, but Thornton-Trump also advises: “Take pictures of your important documents like page 2 of your passport, your driver’s license and both sides of your credit cards in the event any of them are lost or stolen. Be situationally aware if you’re bumped into or jostled at any point in your travels, check for your wallet and phone – develop this habit, don’t panic if something is missing. Simply retrace your steps and you may find what you lost.”

Stay mindful with checked baggage and airport security

A lot of laptop cases, backpacks, wallets and laptops – not to mention travel dodcuments – look similar and during security screening you may briefly lose sight of your personal effects. When retriving your items, do a double check to make sure you have your own belongings. This also applies to situations where the overhead bins are full and your baggage maybe checked into the hold. Remember, many roller bags will look the same. It’s a good idea to attach a high visability patch, sticker or ribbon to your bags so if you are separated from them you can quickly identify which items belong to you.

Cyber Liability Insurance from AmTrust Financial

AmTrust Financial’s cyber liability coverage begins working for you right away in the event of a data breach. Small business owners can rest assured that they will receive assistance at every stage of the investigation and throughout the response of a data breach incident from a team of technical experts and data privacy attorneys. Contact us today to learn more.

This material is for informational purposes only and is not legal or business advice. Neither AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. nor any of its subsidiaries or affiliates represents or warrants that the information contained herein is appropriate or suitable for any specific business or legal purpose. Readers seeking resolution of specific questions should consult their business and/or legal advisors. Coverages may vary by location. Contact your local RSM for more information.
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