Working from anywhere is now as simple as accessing the internet on your device.  

Managers, owners, and employees are all embracing the flexibility of working while traveling, making it the new global norm. But while you were in the office, you were protected by professionally designed firewalls, security infrastructure, and robust software. 

As soon as you step away from the building, those protections disappear, leaving your device and the data inside at great risk. 

Cyber attackers love to collect any data they can obtain, often preferring to hack first, assess value later. It doesn’t help that almost all data can be sold, including your personal details, those of your clients and suppliers, as well as your proprietary business data. These days, the information stored on your device is usually worth much more than the device itself. 

Hackers don’t need to own the Wi-Fi network to steal content from it. Data traveling across an unsecure network is visible and available to anyone with the right software. 

It’s okay, you don’t need to lock all employees inside the building or cancel all travel plans. 

1. Make a backup before you travel

Whether your employee left their laptop at a café or a thief stole their phone, the outcome is the same – that device is gone.  

Hackers will take advantage of any opportunity to gain access to a device, including taking them from hotel rooms and even asking to ‘borrow’ them for a few minutes to install spyware, before handing it back. 

In the event your device is lost or damaged, you’ll be able to replace the device with a new one and quickly restore all the data from a backup, all with minimal downtime.  

Your best strategy: develop a disaster recovery plan. 

If you have a business, it’s best practice to make sure all files on your employee’s devices are backed up in the cloud. If you use Microsoft 365, SharePoint is a great way to centralize your data. Staying proactive in storing data on the cloud will help you never worry about losing important information. 

2. Don’t use public Wi-Fi (use a VPN) 

We’ve all come to expect free Wi-Fi networks wherever we go. Hackers will take advantage of this trust to create their own free, unsecure network, just waiting for a traveler to check a quick email.  

Wait until you have access to a secure network before going online – even just to check your email. One way you can do this is by getting a VPN (Virtual Private Network) 

A VPN hides your computer, network, and in-house business applications. So you can browse your apps and the internet knowing you’re safe and secure from hackers. When you use a VPN, you can rest easy that you’re on a protected network. 

3. Have strong passwords and encryption 

At a minimum, make sure you have a password on your device, or even better, have full drive encryption. That way, even if your data storage is removed from the device, the contents are inaccessible. Some password laws to live by: 

  • 8 characters minimum 
  • Don’t use your profile or personal name in the password 
  • Use special characters (e.g. $!_123) 

Passwords are becoming progressively easier for hackers to breach. So the stronger you can make it the better. It’s also helpful to implement 2-Factor Authentication. 

4. Act fast after loss

Criminals are always looking for ways to steal your data for their own gain.  

If your device is lost or stolen, immediately notify the right people. This might include your IT provider so they can change passwords, your bank so they can lock down accounts, and any staff who need to be aware of the breach so they aren’t tricked into allowing further breaches.  

If you want to travel safe, these 4 steps are a must-know. Remember, your data is your business and customers. Keeping it safe, secure, and proactive will help you sleep better at night. 

Want to start taking control of your security? Consider reaching out to learn more about ways your business can stay safe remote and in the office. 

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