How to Travel Safely with Data & Devices

Blog: How to Travel Safely

Sometimes you do it for business. You take your work along when you attend industry conferences, trainings, and in-person client meetings.
Sometimes you do it in the midst of fun. You sneak in a little work from the beach, from a public venue, or from the home of your childhood best friend.
All the while, you’re deviating from normal in-office security procedures and potentially putting your devices, and your data, at risk.
Working from outside your regular office doesn’t have to mean those everyday security protocols fall by the wayside. Below are some tips to protect your devices, and the data stored on them, while traveling.

Device & Data Protection: Physical Safety

Keeping your devices and your data safe means taking the necessary steps to physically protect these devices. That means:

  • Invest in device protection: Invest in a laptop bag that will protect your laptops or other devices from the bumps, thumps, and (eek) drops that may occur along the way. Whether you opt for a traditional laptop bag, a backpack or something even more fashionable, it should have a well-padded, TSA-compliant sleeve to house your laptop, and be comfortable against your body. Keep your devices with you at all times when traveling—never check them. If you’re traveling primarily with a tablet or mobile device, invest in a sturdy case that will similarly keep it protected.
  • Keep it locked: Make sure devices are password-protected to prevent unwanted access. Also be cautious when unlocking your devices in public places to ensure prying eyes aren’t watching (often referred to as “shoulder surfing”) and trying to remember your passcode.
  • Store safely: Once at your location, if you know you won’t be using your devices, store them in a secure location out of view from others. This may include keeping your laptop in the safe located in your hotel room, putting it in the trunk of your rental car (do this before you reach your destination, not after), or leaving it out of sight in a locked home.
  • Stay alert: When you’re working outside of the office, simply be alert and use your best judgement. This may mean watching your volume when conducting business over your mobile phone, postponing confidential calls until you are in a private location, and not accessing sensitive information while in an open area.

Device & Data Protection: Securing Systems

Keeping your device and your data safe also means taking steps to secure them. Make sure to:

  • Update everything: You’re about to be working from a host of new locations, locations that may introduce new security threats. This is a good time to make sure your security bases are covered and that everything is up-to-date. Are you using strong passwords? Is your security software current and working? Do your devices lock upon going idle? If not, get these issues fixed before you leave.
  • Back up your files: Before you leave town—back up everything! This will ensure you have all your files should something happen on your trip. It will also give you a healthy place to restore your machine to. We hope nothing bad ever happens to you on the road, but if it does, at least you’ll be prepared.
  • Avoid unsecure networks: Never use an unsecure public Wi-Fi connection for business use. To maintain security when using a public wireless connection, use either a software firewall or a secure, encrypted network.

As the tips above illustrate, just because you’re on-the-go does not mean you can’t also protect the safety of your devices. Follow the common sense tips above to ensure your next time out on the road is free of worry, and free of possible data theft.

Photo: Gord McKenna

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