NordLayer - Network Security

Cybersecurity guide for business travelers


By NordLayer
27 Oct 2022
5 min read
Cyber Security for Traveler

Millions of people work remotely, often thousands of miles away from head offices. Other workers regularly travel the globe like digital nomads. Remote work like that is liberating and convenient, but it can also be risky.

Work devices constantly store and transmit confidential data. Laptops might contain project accounts or reports on corporate strategy. Some may even hold client data or provide access to central customer databases.

Cybersecurity for travelers is a top priority. This article will look at the core travel risks and suggest some simple ideas to secure data and devices.

What are the major risks when working remotely?

Here are the most common risks associated with remote work.

the list of major risks when working remotely

1. Public wi-fi

Most travelers need to use public wi-fi from time to time. Whether writing a quick email in a hotel room or checking business news at the airport, public networks are often the only option. However, public wi-fi is a major source of cyberattacks.

Some businesses operate unencrypted wi-fi networks. Others rely on WPA2 encryption - a protocol with known security flaws. Attackers can hijack routers and expose every network user in a man-in-the-middle cyber attack. Never use public wi-fi without proper protection.

2. Device theft

In the USA, thieves steal a laptop roughly every 53 seconds. About 640,000 laptops are lost in US airports alone. Wherever you travel, physical device theft is a critical security threat.

Always know where your laptop is, and avoid leaving mobile devices unattended. Travelers can also take security measures to deal with thefts when they occur. 

For instance, tracking apps provide accurate location information if the worst happens. They can also remotely wipe confidential data – making it useless for data thieves.

3. Compliance

Companies can lose control of how employees use data when they leave office environments. Employees abroad can also enter different data jurisdictions with new privacy requirements. Both scenarios represent compliance risks.

For example, the European Union’s GDPR rules restrict how workers use sensitive data such as personal information. It also requires robust data leak protection, with a hefty fine for compliance breaches.

4. Poor email security

Remote workers need to stay in touch with central offices and clients. But staying in touch often entails large volumes of email traffic that create new security risks.

Cyberattackers can mount phishing attacks by posing as clients or co-workers. With little specific knowledge about their targets, attackers can easily persuade poorly trained remote workers to take risky actions.

It’s also possible to intercept emails or hijack email accounts without their owners’ knowledge. Strong email security and training are essential to lock down communications as workers travel the world.

5. Password security

Nomadic workers handle many login details for critical SaaS apps, email accounts, and data resources. Workers often rely on paper records and may repeat passwords across multiple platforms. Both practices represent significant security risks.

Create robust password security policies for business travelers and remote workers. MFA, strong passwords, and regular changing of passwords are all important.

6. File sharing

Travelers regularly need to share sensitive information like presentation documents, accounts data, or product prototypes. But file-sharing can also be a significant security risk.

Third-party cloud-based sharing services may lack encryption. This may expose data in transit, while employees may also fail to check the source of sharing requests.

Minimize file-sharing risks by choosing third-party providers with a security focus. Encrypted cloud storage reduces the risk of data theft.

How can you protect your device?

Wherever you travel, following best practices for device security is essential. Here are some basic guidelines to keep in mind.

  • Stay close to your device. A few moments away from your device is enough time for thieves to strike, especially in public spaces like coffee shops.

  • Lock your screen if you leave your laptop unattended. Windows and Linux feature lock screens as standard. These features freeze all on-screen operations until you supply authentication information.

  • Use strong passwords. Mix numbers, symbols, and letters, and never use the same passwords for different logins. A password manager is often a sound investment if you find remembering passwords hard.

  • Use biometric authentication. Biometric identification adds an additional layer of assurance. Fingerprint ID, eye scanning, or Face ID tools are all available.

  • Purchase a secure carry bag. Carrying laptops is essential but can also be a security risk. Thieves can slash poorly made bags, giving them access to the contents. Choose specialist bags with reinforced device compartments. Don’t rely on standard backpacks.

How can you protect your data?

Guarding physical devices is not enough. Nomadic workers must also protect data stored on devices and traffic flowing between devices and the wider world.

Here are some best practices to keep data breach risks low:

  • Apply MFA. Multi-factor authentication protects apps and laptops via many different authentication steps. Instead of a single password, users supply swipe cards, security keys, or biometric information.

  • Use a VPN. Virtual Private Networks encrypt data passing through remote work devices and anonymize traffic via IP address scrambling. This conceals data from attackers, making wi-fi users less vulnerable.

  • Use email encryption. Use high-grade encrypted email when sending confidential documents. Equip central offices and remote workers with secure clients, and make sure all workers encrypt sensitive messages.

  • Data deletion. If a data breach does occur, you need a way to render sensitive data unusable. Data trackers are the best option. These apps track device locations, helping users find stolen laptops. But they also allow users to wipe data remotely.

  • Invest in staff training. Train staff to use VPNs and manage passwords safely. Provide regular training on avoiding phishing scams. Build best practices into a remote working security protocol for every traveler to follow.

Cybersecurity tips & checklist for travelers

With security technology developing all the time, every traveler can roam the globe safely. Here are some tips to make the nomadic lifestyle as secure as possible.

  1. Be careful about using social media. Normally, we don’t think twice about sharing our location with contacts on social media. However, online scammers mine social media for social engineering information. So keep location details private.

  2. Update software. VPNs, antivirus software, and email clients all require updates. Regular updates minimize the risk posed by exploit kits and neutralize emerging malware threats.

  3. Avoid automatic connectivity. Many devices connect to Bluetooth or wi-fi automatically, even if their owners are unaware. Turn location sharing, auto-connections, wi-fi, and Bluetooth off whenever possible.

  4. Stick to reliable wi-fi networks. Checking social media on public wi fi is a big mistake. Minimize your time spent at internet cafes’ or hotels’ networks, and ask network owners about their security policies. If their encryption isn’t strong, stay away.

  5. Lock devices and apps securely. Don’t shy away from strong password security and authentication. It may be time-consuming, but adding extra authentication measures is an effective countermeasure if thieves strike.

Which is the best country for cyber security?

From a cybersecurity perspective, some countries are safer than others. That’s why NordLayer has created its Global Remote Work Index. The GDWI provides an informative ranking of nations worldwide. It’s an invaluable resource for all remote workers.

The best countries mix strong governance and infrastructure with a high standard of living. And they aren’t always the ones you would expect.

For example, in terms of cybersecurity alone, Slovakia leads the rankings. Lithuania is second, while Germany comes third. All three take security seriously, responding rapidly when a security breach occurs.

How NordLayer delivers cybersecurity for travelers

Cybersecurity threats follow us wherever we go. Unsecure wi-fi networks, file sharing, and phishing can lead to many types of data breaches. And poor security can rapidly turn relaxing travel experiences into a professional nightmare.

NordLayer offers the ideal solution. Our security tools lock down remote devices anywhere in the world. Get in touch today and reinforce your security protection before you leave.

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