Due to the globalisation of the business environment it seems we are all now travelling much more frequently to meet with clients and overseas colleagues. Fortunately, in line with this, it is now easier to communicate while we are on the move due to advances in email, cloud storage and VoIP connectivity. VoIP particularly has been a huge step forward as it allows us to take our office telephone number with us when we travel and to connect with others via voice and video calls; instant messaging; online chat; and even screen share.
When we use our mobile and our laptop overseas however, how much thought do we really give to how secure our communications are? If you are transferring any data which contains sensitive personal or business information this should be an area of concern and one it is possible to address by implementing safeguards in the following areas.
If you are accessing other people’s networks while you are abroad you need to ensure you have sufficient virus protection in place to alert you if any malware is installed. Set updates and scans to run automatically so that human error doesn’t impede security. Anti-virus software isn’t of course fool proof but it is one tool in your arsenal to remain as safe as possible.
The next issue to consider is data security. First, make sure your telephone or VoIP provider uses encryption to stop people snooping on your calls.
Second if you are transferring and storing data in the cloud this too should be encrypted. Because you don’t have control over the infrastructure of the cloud data centre it is vital for your peace of mind to know that any data held there is encrypted. That way, even if your cloud hosts were to be infiltrated, your data should still remain secure.
When you are on the road it is easy to lose a laptop or mobile and more likely that you will experience a theft. Therefore, all hardware should be password protected and the equipment should lock within a minute of lying idle. You can additionally password protect sensitive documents which you would not want to fall into the wrong hands. The passwords you choose should be lengthy ones and comprise a mixture of letters, numbers and characters. Use different passwords for each application and change them regularly to ensure they are secure as possible.
When it comes to mobile phone security there are apps which will wipe your phone should it be lost or stolen. This is a wise precaution to put in place should you use your phone for business use.
Avoid Free Wi-Fi
When you use a Wi-Fi network within your own office it will usually be password protected and behind a firewall to give you additional security. This won’t necessarily be true of Wi-Fi networks you encounter on your travels and these can therefore become magnets for people who want to steal data. Be particularly wary of free Wi-Fi which isn’t even password protected. If you are in any doubt about a Wi-Fi network, check the name and password with employees at the establishment, to be sure you are connecting to the right one.
The best solution is to set up a VPN or virtual private network to make sure your browsing session and data transfer remains secure. In addition when you are browsing make sure you are using the secure https version of every website.
When it comes to the security of your data the old adage is true, it is better to be safe than sorry, and you should therefore proactively take steps to keep your data secure before you leave the office. It’s easy to become complacent and think that no-one will be looking to gain access to the data you hold but any personal or financial data is valuable to those looking to steal identities, sell business information or hack bank accounts. Once your data has been breached it is too late to turn back the clock so always stay one step ahead.