Smartphones and tablets make it possible for business travelers to stay connected to their corporate networks while on the road as never before. But, like any other platform, these mobile technologies are also vulnerable to hackers, meaning it’s important to protect yourself – and your devices – while you’re on the move. These eight tips will help you do just that.
- Talk to Your IT Department: They’ll have some strategies and tools that will allow you to access the most important, and sometimes sensitive, corporate documents without exposing them to attackers. Make sure you meet with them well in advance of your trip, as these workarounds might take a little time to put together.
- Leave Your Phone at Home: This may sound counterintuitive, but your mobile device most likely contains sensitive data. Prepaid phones, preferably those that don’t store data, are a cheaper, safer alternative.
- Switch Your SIM Card: The SIM card is the removable chip in your phone that stores all of your personal – and sensitive – information. Buying a new one to use during your trip (most international airports will have kiosks that sell them) will protect some of your data in case the phone is lost or stolen. Much of the phone’s data is held in internal storage, however, so this won’t protect that information.
- Don’t Trust Wi-Fi: Avoid open or public Wi-Fi connections at all costs – hotel and public networks are easy prey for hackers looking to steal information or monitor communication. If an Internet connection is a must, have your company set you up with a VPN (Virtual Private Network) that will connect you to a server back home, (see Step 1) or a 4G card for your laptop.
- Try Google Voice: Using a free VOIP connection (Voice Over IP – aka, phone via the Internet) offers security that digital communications in a foreign country cannot. Google Voice is a great option, and having your conversations handled on their infrastructure is far more secure than a foreign telecommunications network, which could be subject to hacking or surveillance. Some governments have been known to use Skype to eavesdrop on users, as well.
- Watch the Signal: If you’re traveling in a country that has 3G service and your mobile device suddenly switches to 2G, you may be in danger. That’s because 2G is far easier to eavesdrop on, and would-be hackers will often try to force a phone onto 2G communication to steal data.
- Lock Your Doors: Nothing beats physical security. Always be sure to lock your hotel door and, when possible, store valuables in an in-room safe. Once hackers have physical possession of a device it is game over, unless you have security software such as Kaspersky Mobile Security or Kaspersky Tablet Security on the device. Both of these offer the ability to remotely lock and wipe lost or stolen devices.
- Get Sneaky: For the truly paranoid, get creative in your phone conversations. Asking “How are the kids?” could be a clever way of asking “How’s the new super-secret microprocessor prototype design coming along?” and could leave any eavesdroppers in the dark. Hopefully your top-secret scientist is playing along.