Travel safe, travel secure

Apr 13, 2021

By Chris Tuzeneu

 For many of us, the holidays involve travel, which means a deviation from our normal computing setup—working portably from a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. While leaving the office can be a nice change of pace, following these tips will help mitigate some of the risks that come with working on-the-go. 

Make sure your devices are encrypted.

This is an “ask your tech person” item, so you don't have to do very much here. Your iOS and Android devices should have full disk encryption enabled by default, but for Windows the magic word is “BitLocker.” When this is on, if your laptop is lost or stolen, nobody will be able to access the data on the hard drive without logging in to your account. Check with IT to see if this is turned on and the encryption key is backed up somewhere safe

Lock your devices when they're not in use.

In public spaces like airports and restaurants, your computing devices should always be on you and never unattended. Even if you need to step away for just a moment, perhaps to pick up your misspelled coffee order—Did they really write “Bread” on your cup?— you should hold the Windows key and press “L” at the very least. That's a quick way to securely lock your laptop to prevent any chance of an opportunistic thief making off with your unlocked device: a true security nightmare.

Always use a VPN on public networks. 

A mobile hotspot is a very secure option, but fast hotel or coffee shop Wi-Fi is a tempting speedy alternative. Make sure connecting back to your bank VPN is the first step after connecting to that “attwifi” or “Guest” network, just in case it’s one of the evil ones. Bonus tip: Ask your favorite nerd if your corporate VPN is a “Full Tunnel” or “Split Tunnel.” A split tunnel only keeps your connection to the bank network safe from attackers; a full tunnel encrypts anywhere else you browse as well.

Manage your passwords in the safest way possible. 

Instead of saving passwords in the browser, switch to a password manager. If your bank doesn't provide one, ask them about using your own solution, such a KeePass or Bitwarden. Both of those are free for personal use, and Bitwarden will even sync across devices so you can use it on a phone or tablet as well as a PC. Password managers generate unique, complex passwords for every website, store them using strong encryption and multifactor authentication, and automatically fill them in the sign-in page for easier login as well as phishing protection. It's a switch worth making any time, but especially useful when traveling.


Enable anti-theft features on your mobile devices.

Both Android and Apple have “Find my Device” built into your phones and tablets. Take a quick peek at your settings, if you can find it hidden in the menus, or ask your tech person where it is. (We‘re happy to help with this, I promise.) Then if your smart thing goes missing, you can locate it on a map or even remotely wipe it if the worst happens. It's a pain to have to get a new phone or tablet, but still better than a thief potentially having access to your data and accounts. You do have a strong passcode or PIN set on your phone, right? Finally, of course, let I.T. know immediately if your laptop or other work device goes missing. In some cases they can even help locate it, depending on what software is installed. Don’t let a data breach put a damper on your holidays.

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