Travel security risks don’t take a break for vacations

July 3, 20184 Minute Read

Did someone say “vacation?” Whether it’s the middle of summer or the heart of winter, everyone loves to kick back and relax during vacation time, but for many workers, a vacation doesn’t mean a complete break from work. Some dedicated teammates check their phones regularly for work-related email or texts. They may even bang away on their laptop after everyone’s gone to bed.

All this is great for productivity and continuity, but IT managers know that every email, text, and file sent over hotel or restaurant Wi-Fi—or worse, an unknown network in a foreign country—translates into travel security risks for the company.

Meet the growing challenge of travel security risks head-on

No one wants to worry about threats to mobile security on vacation while they’re tanning by the pool or sightseeing in a cool city, but travel security risks are real. Cybersecurity threats are growing in number and their ability to disrupt, according to the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Global Risks Report, which also notes that attacks against businesses have almost doubled in the last five years.

On top of that fact, an overwhelming number of these cyber threats come in mobile form. A mobile threat report by McAfee counts 16 million mobile malware infestations detected in the third quarter of 2017 alone.

These mobile threats come in many guises. They could be file attachments or phishing links sent by text or email to a company phone, tablet, or laptop. They could be malware transmitted to an unsuspecting employee over public Wi-Fi. And don’t forget other, malware-free mobile threats, such as someone spying on sensitive data while company documents are sent to a public printer. Whatever form they take, travel security risks pose real threats you, as well as everyone else in the company, should take seriously.

Spread awareness to create a better defence

Knowledge is power. It’s up to you and your IT team to educate employees about cybersecurity risks and the need to always be on the defensive—even when on vacation. It’s also a good idea to remind employees about security best practices just before they leave for their holiday.

These best practices should include:

  • Securing devices with passwords or security codes
  • Turning off Bluetooth
  • Storing electronic devices in the hotel safe
  • Using only password-protected Wi-Fi

The latter may be the toughest one to follow, though, because free Wi-Fi can prove hard to resist, especially for employees who are watching their dollars while on vacation. That said, the more they know about travel security risks, the more likely they will be to take precautions.

Stay vigilant when it comes to apps

A lot of mobile malware inflicts damage through apps. Whether your employees bring their own devices or use company-issued phones or tablets, you need to set some clear-cut rules about installing apps.

Consider requiring employees to seek permission before downloading a new app or compiling a constantly updated list of approved apps. If you’re a BYOD workplace, ensure employees set up work profiles and use these exclusively for activities related to their jobs and the business. Employees should also know how to configure permissions for the apps on their devices to minimize security risks.

Implement more control wherever possible

With so many employees taking vacations throughout the year and so many devices coming in and out of the office, figuring out who’s got what and where they’re taking it can be a challenge for IT staff. If you don’t have a device management program in place, you may want to get one.

You’ll also want to control how company information travels over the internet while employees are away. Most everyone knows about the risks of public Wi-Fi, but you can mitigate these risks with solutions, like a VPN, that encrypt all corporate traffic. Along the same lines, documents sent to an out-of-network printer can become highly insecure if precautions aren’t taken. Secure mobile printing apps ensure sensitive documents can’t be spied on or stolen. A managed print services (MPS) provider can help you establish mobile printing solutions that keep documents secure without getting in the way of your remote workers’ productivity, too.

Finally, you may want to look at teaming up with a Device as a Service provider, a solution that typically provides end-to-end management and support for all desktops, laptops, and tablets. In addition to security features, such as device lock or wipe, these solutions may also provide secure access to Wi-Fi for employees who are connecting away from the office. The result: greater mobile security on vacation. Who doesn’t want that?

Most importantly, enjoy your vacation!

With the right cybersecurity protocols in place, your IT team won’t have to worry about how vacationing employees might inadvertently open the network to cyber attacks. When it’s your turn to go on holiday, you can just relax and enjoy your much-deserved break.

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