How to keep your data safe while travelling

When travelling on business, the first thing one does is switch on ones phones and log straight into any Wi-Fi possible. What you  tend to forget is by doing so, you are compromising your data security.

“People store most of their personal and company information online or on their device. Connected managers always have access to their emails on their devices, checking continuously to ensure their business continues to run smoothly. Their smartphone has become an extension of themselves. And, while an electronic device can be compromised at any time, there are some additional risks while travelling,” says Oz Desai, GM Corporate Traveller.

 “The reality is that in the 21st century, people are as much at risk of having their financial and digital identity stolen as being robbed while they are away.”

The numbers are indeed frightening: statistics from the South African Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS) show that identity theft has increased by 200% over the past six years. A study by Internet security company Norton further outlines that almost nine million South Africans were victims of cyber-crime in 2016.

The good news is that it isn’t hard to keep your information safe while travelling, provided you know what you’re doing.

Desai shares his top tips on how to keep your personal and business data safe while you’re on the road:

  • Avoid Public Anything

Did you know that just about anyone can decide to run a Wi-Fi connection? Once you’re connected onto public Wi-Fi, fraudsters can hijack files or gain remote access to your system. It’s pretty similar to handing the stranger sitting next to you on the plane your credit card and pin code and hope for the best.

If you do need to connect to public Wi-Fi, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a non-negotiable. By using a VPN, you can hide all your internet activities from the attackers.

Take note however that although using a VPN can help you avoid some of the dangers, it’s definitely not foolproof. Rather invest in a portable hotspot or enable the hotspot on your mobile phone.

  • USB Ports are a no-no

USB cables are the easiest way for any hacker to gain access to your computer.

Public charging stations at the airport could be a risk and could expose you to Juice Jacking.

Juice Jacking is a way of stealing the entire data stored in your phone via the USB charging cable. When you use the USB port of public charging stations, you actually are granting the hackers to access all your data unknowingly.

  • Check your bank accounts

It takes bravery to check your bank accounts while on holiday, but we all know that last minute authorization of payments are almost inevitable. Be cautious when and where you access your accounts from, but remember .

it’s important to monitor your bank and credit accounts to detect any suspicious activity, so you can notify your bank immediately.

  • Don’t let your devices out of your sight

Don’t leave your laptop on the table when you go to the bathroom, and keep an eye on your devices at all times. They really are ‘precious’ as they contain your most valuable company and personal information.

  • Be prepared in case your phone gets stolen

If your phone or laptop gets stolen, make sure you are prepared.

Your smartphone should be passport-protected and keep in mind that easy passwords like names and birth dates are not the most secure passwords. Don’t use ‘starwars’ as your password either, as this is the newest entrant into SplashData’s ‘2017 List of worst passwords in the world’. The number one worst password of all times is ‘123456’.

If you really want to be safe and protect your data while travelling: enable location tracking and install a wiping software so you can track down your phone or destroy the data on it if it's ever stolen. And, of course, back up any important information or data before embarking on your travels.

If you’ve taken the steps above to protect your data and yourself, you can hit the road with peace of mind.