5 Helpful Tips to Protect Data When You Travel

Someone sitting on a van camper at night, looking at the sky

An open suitcase filled with items and clothes for a beach vacationLet’s face it, it’s been a long road. At this time last year, we were in the middle of a massive nationwide lockdown. No more breakroom chats, no more trips to Disneyworld, and family or friendly get-togethers? Forget about it. That’s one reason we developed our mindfulness series—you’ve been through a lot, and you deserve time and space to process it.

But now that the world is literally opening back up, we know that while you may be settling back into a new groove with work, you’re probably also craving new kinds of time and space, like a sandy beach, or maybe a misty mountain, or perhaps even a bustling city you always dreamed of exploring. We certainly support any and every wish list becoming a checklist for your new adventures, but we want to take a minute to add one more crucial item to that list you simply can’t leave home without: data security.

According to experts, holidays and long weekends are prime times for threat actors to execute all kinds of malware attacks—everything from ransomware to social engineering, phishing, and beyond. That’s because long weekends and holidays give hackers more time to corrupt files and devices before anyone can respond, or even notice. So the same principles we teach in our Cybersecurity Awareness Program should extend beyond the office, because regardless of your role or organization, the data you deal with is at risk.

Here are some tips to help keep your personal and professional data safe as your remote workspace becomes your remote paradise.

#1 “Yes, We Are Open!”

A distant view of the Eiffel Tower, tourists and citizens scattered around a square

First, you need to be aware of just how “open” your destination is. Nationwide and worldwide, travel destinations are in different stages of opening their borders and businesses, and offer different levels of accessibility. However, global and domestic data privacy regulations are never out of business, so be sure you’re prepared for the adventure you booked.

#2 “Password Protected”

Be sure your mobile devices are safe and secure. Disable lock screen notifications and enable multi-factor authentication so that you—and only you!—have access to your data. You can also apply these authentication measures to your more sensitive accounts, like banking and travel booking websites. If you must bring work on the road, consider asking your organization to provide a loaner device for travel, especially if you’re concerned about data security. Don’t leave home without outfitting your devices with remote-wipe features. That way, if you do bring your personal device, you’ll have a backup plan in case it’s stolen or compromised.

A group of three overlooking a tropical beach view after a long hike#3 “You Are an Island”

It may take a few extra steps, but bringing backup power supplies for your batteries and devices means you can depend on yourself, not your surroundings, to keep your devices going. This also means your belongings are always close to you, instead of plugged into a wall at the airport or the quirky coffee shop you found. If you don’t have backup power supplies, research where you’re going and find secure spots along the way. Make sure all your devices are charged before you leave and only use them when necessary. Don’t connect your devices to other unknown devices, such as that free USB drive you picked up at the airport kiosk—this is an easy way for threat actors to send malware with you. You can plan your trip right down to the souvenirs you’re bringing back, but there are still plenty of unknowns out there. Give yourself peace of mind you can rely on, such as your awesome foresight and security prep!

#4 “The Public Eye”

A square in Portugal being explored by visitors and citizens

While you’re traveling, you may be tempted to visit the business center of your hotel to check your emails or log in to the Wi-Fi connection at the bookstore you found. Most of these connections are generally secure, but keep your eyes peeled for the word “public” when it comes to Wi-Fi channels. A public connection is always a security red flag, because everyone can access it, which means the wrong person in the business center at the right time could really sabotage your trip. Try to avoid these kinds of connections altogether or take the necessary steps and use extreme caution if you decide to use them.

#5 “Home Sweet Home”

Traveling is great, but it also can be a rush to come home. You want to share your adventures and relive the journey you just experienced. Naturally, you want to get online and start posting pics, see friends and start telling your tales from the road, and deliver souvenirs to their new homes. But wait—now that you’re home, take a few minutes toA woman sits on a picnic blanket overlooking a sunset change those PINs and passwords. Even if you took good care of your data and devices while you were away, there’s a chance someone picked up your login information. It never hurts to give yourself that extra layer of protection.

The world is open and ready to explore! Just make sure no one else decides to explore your accounts, data, or other sensitive information. Like we said: you deserve this time and space, so use it as a launching pad for a day at the beach, not a data breach!