Securing Your Data While Traveling the World

October 062017
Securing Your Data While Traveling the World

By Rick Delgado, Freelance Automation Commentator

Despite the amount of communication done long-distance nowadays, travel is an important part of business. From important business meetings to new clients, it's very likely that you'll have to travel for your business, and some of those trips may even be international. With the advent of technology-based business information, security is no longer limited to just your own safety -- the security of your data is top priority too. Here are some easy tips for data protection.

 

1. Determine Important Data to Bring       

It's not always imperative to bring your work computer and everything on it. Your work computer has sensitive information, and it's very likely that you won't need all of that information when you're traveling. If you can, get a loaner computer or a secondary computer, and clean it of everything but the things you need. If you do need sensitive data, be sure it's password-protected and not easily accessible.

 

2. Back Everything Up                                            

No matter what you're taking with you, you're going to want to back all your information up. Hard drives are relatively cheap, even for ones with a Terabyte of space, so there's really no reason to leave home without a backup. If you're going to be adding information on your trip, whether on your computer or your phone, you can bring another hard drive, but a cloud storage system is also very helpful. You may already have a free storage system like iCloud, but if you need more space than it provides, paid cloud systems are worth far more than their low prices.

 

3. Beware of Wi-Fi                           

Even though you should be backing things up, and you may be using an internet system, you should be very aware of the wireless internet access you use. Café internet is likely to be unsafe -- you have no way of knowing if the internet is monitored, if there are criminals using it, or if you're unintentionally providing sensitive information to other people on the same network. Only use wireless internet that you know is safe, and beware of accessing sensitive accounts while in a foreign country.

 

4. Do Your Research

Not only may other countries have different laws on what they're allowed to search your computer for and why, your rights in the US may be different than you think they are. As a citizen, the Fourth Amendment gives you the right to avoid search and seizure without probable cause, but the definition of "probable cause" has widened significantly, and casts a wide net. When you're going to travel internationally, put a password on your computer and power it all the way down. Telling a person to turn their computer on is sometimes less legally allowed than telling them to wake it from sleep, which can prove important if you are, for whatever reason, stopped by border security. In addition, many foreign countries allow the search and seizure of more information than the US, so for maximum data protection, double-encrypt your files; even if they tell you to decrypt your information, then copy it, they won't have whatever is on your computer.

 

5. Disable Unneeded Wireless Services   

Wireless, Bluetooth, and GPS can easily be taken advantage of by attackers, and they may be able to gain access to your accounts because of what you have on your phone. You can stop this by turning off your GPS, Bluetooth, and device Wi-Fi if you're not using it at the time. In addition, try not to use it if you have the option not to -- for example, if you usually use a Bluetooth headset, consider using your phone without it while you're abroad.

 

6. Check Everything Back Home

Once you get back home, run a full virus scan on everything; if you've used potentially unsafe connections, change passwords for accounts with sensitive information. External drives and any other plug-in devices should be checked too, and you should never plug in a drive that has been used in another country without making sure it has been checked thoroughly for viruses or other malware.                                              

Data protection overseas is important, and it is perhaps the most important when you're traveling on company time. Though you may be tempted to follow all the same rules overseas as you do when you're at home, the rules are very different, and it helps to be paranoid. Be careful with your data -- when it comes to your business, it's better to be safe than sorry.

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