More than 100 million people will travel on planes, trains, and automobiles this holiday season, making it a field day for hackers looking to exploit unsuspecting victims. Those traveling for business purposes or bringing work devices home for the holidays need to be especially wary of potential cyberattacks that could compromise their organization's data and security, according to a Wednesday report from Matrix Integration.
"When you travel, there's always the possibility of you leaving your phone somewhere or tapping into an unknown Wi-Fi connection, leaving your data vulnerable to getting lost or stolen," Chris Martin, security expert and solutions architect at Matrix Integration. "Unfortunately, there are always people who will take advantage of situations like crowds during the holidays."
SEE: Telecommuting policy (Tech Pro Research)
While many business security solutions are implemented at the enterprise level, individual travelers can take the following precautions to protect themselves, according to the report:
1. Back up everything
Before any trip, take the time to backup all critical data. "It only takes a few minutes, but can save hours or days if a device is lost or damaged," the report said.
2. Patch and protect
Update all devices before traveling with the most recent operating systems and software. Make sure any security patches released by your company are also installed—the more up-to-date the devices are, the less chance they have of getting hacked, the report said.
3. Beware of Bluetooth
Bluetooth can be an easy, fast way to connect devices; however, it also can provide a direct link for hackers to access your personal information, the report noted. The best course of action to avoid this is to disable Bluetooth when in a busy, crowded space, like an airport or train station.
4. No paper passwords
Many people still keep their sticky note of passwords on their laptop for reference, but this makes them incredibly easy to steal, the report noted. Instead, seek out password management software that encrypts data for safe storage of passwords and other information.
5. Be mindful of your surroundings
Crowded airports, train stations, and bus stops are often a target for traditional criminals and hackers, the report found. Be wary of logging into your bank account, viewing other personal information in public, or typing in passwords where others can see.
The big takeaways for tech leaders:
- Millions of Americans will travel during the holiday season, and will be prime targets for hackers. — Matrix Integration, 2018
- Travelers can ward off cyberattacks by backing everything up, updating devices, turning off Bluetooth in public spaces, avoiding paper passwords, and being mindful of their surroundings. — Matrix Integration, 2018
- Time management tips for tech professionals (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
- Photos: The best suitcases, carry-ons, and backpacks for business travel (TechRepublic)
- 7 genius traveling tips from a globetrotter (CNET)
- How organizers for major events like the Olympics can fend off cyberattacks (TechRepublic)
- 8 pro tips to reduce the stress of business travel (TechRepublic)
Alison DeNisco Rayome has nothing to disclose. She does not hold investments in the technology companies she covers.
Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.