Vacation season is upon us once again! A few minutes spent in consideration of travel cybersecurity can ensure that your trip is memorable for all the right reasons and none of the wrong ones.
Before You Leave
Check your company’s policies on leisure travel. This is a good time to review your employee handbook or your company’s acceptable use policies. Your company may have policies in place that discourage or even forbid taking your company owned laptop with you on a leisure travel.
Travel light. Take only the business technology that you absolutely need. Each piece of technology that you take with you is one more item to be responsible for, one more attack vector for hackers to exploit.
Travel with only the devices that you absolutely need. Leave the rest securely in the office or at home.
If you do take your devices with you, pack with travel cybersecurity in mind. Pack AC power supplies and AC chargers. Consider taking a portable charger for emergencies. Pack your laptop in a bag that offers adequate protection and can be carried onto the aircraft.
Hang on to valuable technology and data. Your laptop and cell phone should remain under your control at all times. Do not put your laptop or company cell phone in your checked baggage. The airline’s baggage handling procedures are not delicate and were not designed with travel cybersecurity in mind.
Keep an eye on your business technology as it goes through TSA screening portals.
At all Points on your Journey
Keep travel cybersecurity at the top of mind throughout your journey. Here are a few threats to look out for:
In 2019, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office warned travelers about the USB charger scam also known as “juice jacking.” Under this scam, hackers place a device in-line at a USB charging station, at a hotel, or airport.
To the unsuspecting victim, the USB charging port at the charging station looks perfectly legitimate.
The hacker’s in-line device uses the USB connection to install malware on your cell phone or laptop or to extract sensitive data from your business technology. While this scam may not be widespread, there is evidence that it persists.
The solution: Do not plug your laptop or cell phone directly into USB charging stations at hotels or airports. Instead, plug into an electrical power outlet using an AC charger, a car charger, the laptop’s power cord/power supply. Purchase a portable charger and keep it charged for emergencies. If you must connect to USB charging stations, consider purchasing a USB data blocker to keep your data secure.
Public wireless networks at hotels, coffee shops, airports, libraries, and other locations prioritize convenience over cybersecurity. Hackers and snoopers on these networks may be able to access your devices or monitor traffic.
What appears to be the hotel’s wireless guest network may, in reality, be a hacker’s wireless network made to look like the official hotel network.
Keep cybersecurity in mind as you travel.
If your computer detects two wireless networks with similar names, ask the hotel staff which one is official. Better yet: avoid connecting to public wi-fi networks. Use your cell phone’s hotspot for a more secure connection.
Found USB Storage Devices
At some point in your journey, you may happen upon an apparently lost USB storage device. The temptation to plug this device into your computer—just to see what is on it—may be strong, but we advise you not to. Errant thumb drives often contain malware. It’s best to leave these devices where you find them or better yet, turn them in to someone who may be able to reconnect them with the rightful owner.
It might be tempting to take your laptop with you to the pool, to the beach, or to that tranquil spot alongside a gurgling stream, but electronic components hate hot weather, water, dirt, and sand. They don’t stand a chance against spilled drinks; and they can’t be left unattended while you cool off in the ocean. It’s best to leave the electronics secured in the hotel, far away from the sandy shores. Take a good book (and plenty of sunscreen) with you instead!
Consider Unplugging Completely
No network or device is 100% secure. Every connection to the internet is an attack vector. When you are travelling to unfamiliar locations, cybersecurity is an even greater challenge. Hackers know this and they will target you where you are most vulnerable.
Working remotely is the norm in 2021 but have you considered unplugging completely during your vacation? There is ample evidence of significant benefits to disconnecting from work entirely for a few days. In fact, professor Leslie Perlow at Harvard Business School reports that by requiring employees to disconnect during their off hours, Boston Consulting Group surprisingly realized greater personal connection among employees when they were back at work.
If possible, unplug completely. Your family is likely to appreciate it, corporate culture will flourish, and your mental health will benefit. You might even realize a productivity increase as a result of time spent unplugged.
If you need help with travel cybersecurity EXP Technical has resources available to define effective policies, implement appropriate controls, and respond quickly to issues as they arise. We believe in Serving People Through Technology. We provide peace of mind so that you can relax and enjoy your time away.
No matter where your journeys take you, we wish you safe and secure travels. Here’s to vacations that create only the right kinds of memories! Bon voyage!