If data breaches have you tip-toeing around the way you use your technology, especially while working remotely, you’re not alone. More and more employees, especially executives, are spending less time in the office and more time working in airports, hotels or even on flights.

As leaders, we are expected to constantly have our fingers on the pulse of the latest company financials and industry news -- and keep up with email to boot. However, carrying sensitive information on our devices puts us (and that information) at risk once we walk out of the office door.

Here are my favourite ways to keep company data safe during travel:


Put Data Hygiene On Your Pre-Flight Checklist

You may be the CEO of a multimillion-dollar company, but to airport security, you’re just another potential threat. If removing your laptop to place it in a conveyor belt tray gives you anxiety, just think about those times you may be asked to take it a step further by powering on and allowing security agents to inspect the device. There’s also the possibility of a device being lost or stolen in transit.

I’ve travelled with mobile devices for years, and only once has my device been opened. After five minutes, it was over, but it was incredibly stressful. Today, I usually travel with a mobile thin client, which keeps my data in a datacenter and not locally, so the next time I’m asked, there will be nothing to fear.

It’s helpful to think of traveling with company data on your device like traveling with a bag of cash. If you want to keep it safe, you can take some precautions to protect what’s private and important.

Lock down your device and data before you go. Go through the files stored on it, back up what you need securely to company servers and remove as much as you can from the device itself. Password-protect or encrypt the files you need for your journey. Store your laptop in a bag with a combination lock and keep it with you always.


Set Up Multi-Factor Authentication And Strong Passwords

Enabling multi-factor authentication is one of those security tips that has been repeated over and over, but many people still fail to follow. It’s a simple way to make sure no one can access your device or applications if your device is lost or stolen.

For best results, combine multi-factor authentication with another classic but often ignored security component -- a strong password. Make it 12 characters or more, and include a combination of numbers, symbols and different cases. I am a huge fan of password managers because they not only remember my passwords but tell me when a password is weak or should be replaced, and they ensure that I don’t use the same password twice.


Keep Info Safe While Connected To Airplane Wi-Fi Or Hotel Wi-Fi

Once you log on to public Wi-Fi, your work device is immediately at risk, as it’s easy for strangers using the network to download apps that allow them to snoop on what you’re doing. Still, you may not be able to avoid public Wi-Fi completely if you’re working in transit or just want to watch in-flight entertainment on the airplane. Many airlines are eliminating the implementation of seatback screens in new planes, knowing travellers usually bring their own devices. Just remember that you have no idea what you’re getting into when you connect to in-flight Wi-Fi or who else is logged on and may be trying to take advantage of unsuspecting travellers.

Be smart about public Wi-Fi use. Use a VPN, and if you don’t have one, don’t check your bank accounts or financial info. Adjust your device settings so you’re not automatically connecting to Wi-Fi when a network is detected. And as convenient as it may be to connect to your rental car’s Apple CarPlay or Android Auto interface, skip it. The less you can use public Wi-Fi, the better your odds of keeping your data safe.


Use Secure Digital Workspaces To Bullet-Proof Travels

At my office, we simplify security by the use of secure digital workspaces that rely on cloud client-computing along with well-protected PCs and thin clients. Relying on server-based computing or VDI isn’t a revolutionary idea, but as of late, it is reclaiming its position as a staple for executives and mobile workers thanks to exponential improvements in deployment and user experience.

With this approach, I can remotely access company information in real time from anywhere without ever having to store it on my mobile device, thin client or laptop. Moreover, it’s a secure connection that can’t be snooped on, so there's no risk of man-in-the-middle attacks when connecting to unknown or untrusted Wi-Fi networks and no risk of a data breach even if someone has physical access to my device. Even when I forget to turn on the VPN, communications are encrypted, protecting me from my own failing memory.


Bottom Line: Think Of Your Data As Cash … Because Criminals Do

In the old days, criminals stole expensive hardware to do a factory reset and sell the device for quick cash. Today’s criminals realise the information on devices is more valuable than the device itself. They often scan devices for valuable data that can be sold on the dark web before selling the hardware. Passwords, card numbers, mobile banking credentials or that contract you’ve been reviewing while on your commute are all valuable to criminals.

Simply put: If the data on the device is locked down or if there is no data on the device, the device is just a physical asset. The ideal outcome after going through the hassle of a stolen, lost or compromised device is that the criminals didn’t get anything of value

As the business world continues to shift to a mobile model, rethink your company’s remote access policies and your own work practices -- maybe even before you board your next plane.


Communicated by Dell

Publié le 09 juillet 2018