No business is safe from a cyber incident. Businesses across all industries have increasingly been targeted by cyber criminals, become the victims of non-targeted attacks, or have inadvertently opened their network to an incident through employee error.
But how does the threat of a cyber incident affect businesses with travelling employees? Does business travel make them more vulnerable, and what precautions should travelling employees take to reduce the risks when away on business trips?
When away on business there are several important things to remember to help reduce your risks
Avoid using public networks without using a secure VPN. Refrain from connecting to free Wi-Fi networks in coffee shops or other public places. Airports and cafes often offer free, open-access Wi-Fi. Such open, unencrypted networks may offer criminals a way to monitor traffic and get a hold of personal information, including passwords, or to install malware on unsuspecting devices.
Avoid using public computers for sensitive business (and personal) activity. If you are planning to work with sensitive files or data, or perhaps personal transactions like banking or online shopping, do not use public computers. Previous users may have installed malicious software and programs that can record the passwords you enter.
Avoid downloading unknown applications. The internet is full of free software from unknown sources. These kinds of programs often carry malicious applications and installing one may infect and cause serious damage to your computer.
Passwords. Keeping passwords safe and secure is crucial, as is regularly changing them and using a variety of different ones. Proactive password management helps ensure this last line of defence is as effective as possible in keeping cyber criminals at bay.
Keep your devices physically secure. Avoid leaving them in open areas. When in hotel rooms, be sure to keep them locked in the safe.
Write down your emergency phone numbers and keep them safe and secure. This offline backup is often the most effective way of storing useful information should your device be lost , stolen or damaged.
And remember, it’s not just the online threat that could leave you vulnerable. There have been reports of criminals monitoring social media for people talking about an upcoming business trip, and then selecting their home as a potential target for burglary. Your online presence and your offline activity go hand in hand.
How to protect your devices
To keep your company’s network safer you can follow these six simple steps to help ensure your devices are as secure as possible as you prepare for a business trip:
Keep your firewall turned on and leave it active
Install or update your antivirus software
Install or update your antispyware technology
Keep your operating system up to date
Be careful what you download and only use a trusted source
Turn off your computer while not in use
What can a company do?
Give your employees the information they need to protect themselves whilst travelling. One of the main causes of cyber incidents is human error and whether it’s intentional or not the consequences are often the same.
As a company you can help educate your employees by circulating travel tips such as those above or by providing them with the tools they need to understand the risks they face: Phishing awareness training can easily be implemented to educate people on how to avoid scams. Alternatively new solutions such as a company-wide password management system can assist. Making sure your employees aren’t the weakest link in your network is crucial.