Sml Shield

Trusted by over 400,000 with their insurance needs

Sml Star

Our service is rated ‘Excellent’ on Feefo

Sml Agent (1)

Over 2000 insurance specialists ready to support you

Cyber Safety Whilst Travelling

The best way to keep your data safe while travelling is not to bring your mobile devices with you at all, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. In this article, we take a look at ways you can secure your data while travelling for business or leisure.

Before you go…

Before embarking on your travels, ensure all the security features and software is up-to-date on your devices. Keep them updated during your time away by turning on “automatic updates” on your devices. Updates often include tweaks that protect you against the latest cybersecurity concerns.

Make sure your files and data are backed up before you leave. For work related devices, this may mean synchronising your laptop with your company’s server, so all your data can be found on their system in the event that your laptop is lost or stolen.

Up Arrow

Lock down your accounts

Whether you’re using a public or private computer, or internet connection, you can never take too many precautions for keeping your data safe. Create long and unique passwords for all accounts and use multifactor authentication (MFA) wherever possible. MFA fortifies your online accounts by enabling the strongest authentication tools available, such as biometrics or unique one-time codes sent to your phone or mobile device.

Up Arrow

Be mindful of public Wi-Fi and computers

Public Wi-Fi may be the cheapest way to get online while you’re on the move, but it also comes with its fair share of security risks. Because public wireless networks and hotspots are generally not secure, anyone can potentially see what you are doing on your laptop or smartphone while you are connected to them. Limit your activities on these networks and consider using a VPN or personal hotspot for a more private connection.

Generally, it is best practice to avoid using public computers to access sensitive personal information or for financial transactions. However, if you need to carry out these tasks, make sure you uncheck any “remember me” boxes on sites you log into, and make sure you delete your browser history and cookies before leaving.

When away from home, disable remote connectivity and Bluetooth. Some devices will automatically seek and connect to available wireless networks. While out and about, these features can provide roving cybercriminals access to your devices.

Up Arrow

Who is watching you?

It may be tempting to get out your work laptop or mobile to get some work done on the train but be careful - even if you are not connected to the internet, this could pose a data risk. It only takes one nosey fellow passenger to look at your screen and see confidential information. For this reason, it is best to avoid doing any confidential work while in public, unless you are confident that nobody else is looking at your device. It can be very easy for someone looking over your shoulder to identify your name, who you work for, who your senior managers may be, and other information that could lead to a social engineering scam.

Up Arrow

Keep a tight leash on your devices

Laptops and mobiles are prime targets for thieves, so it is best to minimise taking them out and about with you if you can. If you are staying in a hotel and want to leave your devices in the room, many hotel rooms will come with safes where you can lock them away. If your hotel doesn’t have a safe, lock them in your luggage - it’s good to bring a padlock with you on your trip for this reason.

If you need to carry your device with you, it’s best to make sure you have them securely locked with a passcode or PIN, so if anybody steals your device, they will not be able to access any confidential information. Consider setting up the “find my phone” feature which is available for Android and iOS devices - not only will this feature allow you to locate your phone, it gives you the power to remotely wipe data or disable the device if it gets into the wrong hands.

Never leave devices unattended or hand them over to strangers. If you are using your device in a cafe, bring it with you while you go to order a drink or use the toilet - it may mean that you lose your seat, but it means your device will be safe!

If you are a business owner, it is important to ensure that you have a security protocol in place for if employees lose or have their devices stolen - are you able to track their devices or wipe them remotely? If not, consider setting up these features to keep your data safe and secure in the event of laptops or mobile phones going missing.

Up Arrow

Using mobile devices and laptops abroad

As a business owner, you may need to ask yourself several questions regarding device safety: do you have a policy around managers and employees taking devices out of the country when they are not in work? If they are allowed to take them abroad, do you have any advice or training in place about using a virtual private network (VPN)? If not, it may be worth organising training for employees on how to use their devices safely while travelling as well as how to use VPNs.

Up Arrow

Locking down social media

Your business may have one or several social media accounts, and this is more data to think about keeping safe while travelling. If your team has access to company social media accounts, do you have guidance for helping them to completely log out of such accounts in case a mobile phone or tablet is lost or stolen? Is it possible for social media accounts to be temporarily managed by employees who are not travelling, so the travelling employee can stay logged out during their trip?

Think before you post. Whether you’re travelling for business or pleasure, it may be tempting to post pictures from your trip on your personal social media accounts - but this can pose a data risk. Posting while you are on holiday tells everyone that you are away from home, and it highlights an opportunity for thieves to break into your house and steal any devices you may have thought were safer leaving behind. Wait until you have returned home to share your pictures and information about your trip.

Up Arrow

Cyber insurance from Towergate

If you have cyber insurance in place for your business, make sure you are familiar with the terms and where you are covered. Ensure there is a process in place for reporting any cyber incidents 24/7 and that this is cascaded to all colleagues.

If you have any questions about protecting your business against a cyber-attack, please contact the cyber liability insurance team who will be happy to help.

Up Arrow

About the author

Alison Wild Bcom Hons MAAT MATT Taxation Technician Commercial Tax Pensions Insurance And Marketing Specialist AuthorAlison Wild BCom (Hons), MAAT, MATT, Taxation Technician is a highly respected industry professional who has been working with and advising SMEs in areas including tax, pensions, insurance and marketing for over 25 years. She is a member of the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) and Association of Tax Technicians (ATT) and also has 20 years' experience as a residential landlord.