It’s fall once again and you and your colleagues are heading off to conferences and sales meetings far and wide. Flights and hotels are booked and ready to go but what about your email and computer security?
If you’re going to be texting a great deal from your smart phone or tablet you run the risk of getting hacked and having your information stolen. Even the Wi-Fi at your hotel is a very risky proposition let alone the Wi-Fi available at every caft. It is incredibly easy for a hacker to sit outside a hotel where your conference is being held, hack into the hotel Wi-Fi system, see who’s online and reel in their catch of the day. Cafts tend to be even less secure than hotels.
There’s also the matter of losing your hardware. I’ve even seen advertisements featuring someone looking at a cab that’s driving off with their laptop sitting on the roof.
When we went to Brazil we took a stripped down older laptop with just the bare essentials. It’s also very easy these days to store your important documents in the cloud. It’s better than having your only copy of a contract on the laptop that disappeared somewhere between the hotel and the airport. The same thing goes for your smartphone or tablet. So here are some hard and fast rules to keep your data safe when traveling:
- Before you leave make sure that anything important on your device(s) is backed up elsewhere and, unless it is absolutely necessary to your trip, removed from drive. If you have to you can cloud-access it later.
- If you have a bright shiny new phone, tablet or laptop leave it at home and take an older model with just the essential applications you’ll need. That way, if it’s lost or stolen it won’t be as costly or as aggravating to replace.
- If, while you’re away, you have some highly sensitive information to send back to the office or to a client; ask them if you can postpone sending the data until you’re back at the office. If it has to be sent right away, send it as a pdf or (yes I know it’s old-fashioned but it works) fax it.
- Keep your numbers (credit card numbers, hotel reservation numbers, and flight numbers especially) OUT of your emails and texts whenever possible. I know it’s been said many times but it’s still very relevant.
- And, last but not least, take care of your own health when you’re traveling. Watch out for the junk food and late nights. According to a Columbia University study health risks increase with the amount of time you spend on the road.
How do you protect your data when you’re away from home?