Cybercriminals target all kinds of people to steal data, and travelers are not immune to it either. In the modern world, even in locations where an individual may feel physically safe, cybercriminals and hackers can defeat that notion by lurking in the background without the person’s knowledge. Here’s what you can do before you travel that can dramatically help in improving your odds of avoiding a data catastrophe.
1. Backup information before you set out on a trip. If you are faced with an untoward incident while you are traveling and are in a physical location that you are unfamiliar with (i.e. no access to remote systems), you could lose your primary source of information. This could result in a major incident, and hence to prevent that, ensure that you backup your data and essential credentials before you set out.
2. Carry only the necessary devices you need for your journey. Any electronic devices that have data in them must not be carried with you unless they are absolutely required. Ensure that you lock up extra data devices in a safe place in your home or office. The same also goes for tangible records such as credit cards, identification cards and others. It can help to carry only what you need and not more. This is because in the event your wallet or baggage is stolen, you may want to deal with the least amount of headache as possible.
3. Purchase a throwaway or a high-risk zone piece of hardware. Specific areas that are deemed high risk for hacking can be dangerous locations to carry primary devices. Hence, it can help to get yourself a device that is dedicated to using only in the risky zone. Ideally, organizations must provide their traveling employees with such devices, especially those executives that have to handle confidential business information while on the move. The throwaway device can be wiped and reset to its factory settings once the employee has moved away from the high-risk zone.
4. Digital rights management to the rescue. If it is not viable or feasible to purchase a piece of hardware for use while traveling, due to the many risks associated with physical equipment such as theft or loss, the best way to secure your confidential data while on the move or at rest, is to protect it through digital rights management [DRM]. This proactive data security technology can ensure the content in your sensitive or confidential PDF documents stays safe from hackers and cybercriminals.
5. Switch off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth options. It is recommended to switch off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on all your electronic devices when you travel. It can also be practical to keep them off the entire duration of your trip, to avoid cyber criminals snooping in public Wi-Fi networks or to prevent a hacker from accessing your data through your Bluetooth.
6. Inform your credit card issuers and banks before you depart overseas. Notifying financial institutions, you are associated with before you set out to travel can help in preventing your payments from being denied when in a foreign location. Informing your bank as well can avoid your credit card from being blocked. Besides, keeping your financial institutions informed can improve their chances of stopping fraudulent payments made by a local hacker who is attempting to steal your financial information and commit fraud in your absence.
7. Encrypt all your sensitive information. While it is recommended that confidential data must be stored in an encrypted format, most people are lax regarding encrypting their data when they leave their homes or offices. All data must be encrypted, as the odds of such information been lost or stolen can be higher when you are in an unfamiliar place and veering from your regular schedule. While hardware encryption is in-built in many devices, it can help to secure your data with digital rights management that can protect your documents, regardless of where they are located.
8. Enable remote wipe and remote lock for all your mobile devices. If your laptop, smartphone, or computer is lost or stolen when you are traveling, a remote wipe facility could be the key to ensuring your data remains secure. There have been countless cases where traveling executives have misplaced their devices or have had them stolen, which has resulted in severe data breaches.
9. Ensure that your computing devices have up-to-date security software. Every computing system, laptop, tablet or smartphone must have updated security software such as a firewall, antispam, anti-malware, and similar such security solutions, especially when you are traveling. Make sure that all the devices have updated patches on their software and operating systems.
10. Plan adequate data access on your cellular plan. It can help to verify that you have sufficient data on your mobile plan for the countries you are traveling in. If needed, increase the data limit, and if you plan to use Wi-Fi, learn how to do it safely while preparing for it accordingly. It can help to know that running a personal hotspot on your smartphone can allow other devices to leverage your cellular Internet connection and thus expose your smartphone to a cyber hack or criminal activity.
While you ascertain that all your equipment, including hardware and software, is updated, including implementing a robust data security solution for your document files such as DRM, ensure that you are sufficiently prepared for protecting your documents and sensitive files before you set out on your journey.