Protecting your data as you travel

Our last post on cybersecurity at the airport and on board some aircraft that offer on board connectivity dealt with rogue Wi-Fi hotspots and the measures you can take to protect your laptop from hackers. This post will deal with a bigger problem of information security throughout your travel itinerary and how you can protect yourself from data loss or even data theft during your travel.

Wi-Fi access points still play a major role as they are the entry points to your data that hackers, cybercriminals and the individuals involved in cyber espionage. The other option is when your laptop is stolen. So these miscreants have two gateways to your information. Free Wi-Fi is the most important amenity amongst Business Travelers, according to a survey done by American Airlines and HP in 2009. In fact business travelers responded that Wi-Fi was the "most important airport amenity, outscoring basic travels needs such as food by nearly 30 percentage points."

Information security and travel: Travelers needs to place more efforts in safeguarding their data.
For many of these travelers, the convenience of accessing free Wi-Fi at the airport lounge outweighs the risks of hacking and information theft. But this depends on the position in the pecking order. The loss of information by a high flying executive or government agent is definitely quite expensive!

Even for an "ordinary" business traveler, there are risks associated with malware installed via rogue Wi-Fi access points that might cost you lots of data and hundreds of dollars to restore your data and  remove the malware.

According to a study conducted by the Ponemon Institut, the physical loss of devices, and the accompanying combination of replacement cost, detection, forensics, data breach, lost intellectual property costs, lost productivity, and legal, consulting and regulatory expenses sets a company back an average of $49,246 per lost laptop! Lost laptops with encryptionhttp://www.blogger.com/post-edit.g?blogID=4596185367102352450&postID=4789261814681384493 however cost companies only $20,000, which is 29,000 less than for an unencrypted laptop. Encrypted disks however safeguard data by scrambling information on them. They unlock that information only when the user enters the proper passcode.

Tips for Safeguarding your data during your travel
There are a few simple steps that you can take to ensure your data is safe during your travel. Travel can be a headache and who wants an extra head ace post travel? Use the following steps to safeguard your data and ensure a smooth and safe Wi-Fi access as you hop from one city to another in your business travels:
  • Use an encrypted disk to safeguard the information on your laptop or smart phone and make sure you log off of your computer when you're not using it.In most cases when you hibernate your computer, its memory is recorded unencrypted. You can also use a free software called TrueCript(http://www.truecrypt.org) that allows you to encrypt the content of your local drive and on USB Flash drives.
  • Turn off your wireless and Bluetooth connections if you're not using them. These are electronic gateways into your devices and as long as they are on, hackers can scan for open Wi-Fi peer to peer connections and gain access to your files. Hackers can use software like Aerodump to quickly figure out the existing wireless access points. Woo unto you if yours is one of them and you are not well armed to fend off attacks.
  • Use an anti-glare shield on your computer to prevent others from spying on your screen. With such shields, you must be face-to-face with the screen to be able to read it. 
  •  Regularly back up the data on your laptop or smart phone. Several companies offer backup services, but you can also save information on other computers and disks. Even if your data is encrypted- eliminating your fear of sensitive information getting stolen -backing up the data will make it easy to transfer to a new phone or laptop.
  •  If you lose your smart phone and don't want others to access your information, call your provider and request that the device be wiped of information. There also exist security software that allows you to send a text message to your phone that will remotely wipe it and block others from accessing its content. 
  •  To ensure that you're visiting an authentic Web site and not getting duped by a phishing scheme, some experts suggest logging onto those sites through your company's VPN connection.
  • Be vigilant to avoid losing or forgetting your laptop at the lounge. Avoid sleeping or taking a nap with the laptop on your lap; place the laptop on your lap instead of a table when using it as it's much easier to forget the laptop on the table but impossible to forget to carry it with you when it's on your lap :)

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