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Business travel is back and so are the cybercriminals: 3 ways to avoid becoming a target

As travelers return to the skies for both business and leisure, they also face heightened cybersecurity risks as high-value targets. Business travelers are especially enticing prey for cybercriminals—they often handle sensitive information and travel without the support of company firewalls and other physical security measures.

Just this month, a Russian-based hacker group targeted airport websites across the country, including 15 in Hawaiʻi. There was no impact to traveler safety or data, but the event served as a reminder that despite our remote geography, Hawaiʻi is not safe from cyberattackers.

Proactive preparation and vigilance are key to avoiding travel-related cybersecurity vulnerabilities. During your holiday travels, for fun and work, remember these best practices for protecting your data and minimizing risk.

Opt for Private WiFi

Public and other unsecured networks, such as airport or hotel WiFi, present a huge opportunity for criminals to conveniently access internet-connected devices. During travel, stay away from sensitive online activities such as shopping, banking, or accessing the company intranet.

For phones, stick to built-in internet connectivity; for other devices such as laptops and tablets, consider a mobile hotspot. It’s also helpful to disable WiFi auto-connect, a feature that automatically connects the device to available networks, even potentially unsecured ones.

Use Caution on Public Devices

Steer clear of computers at hotel business centers and other public areas as they’re often weakened by outdated operating systems and dormant viruses waiting to activate. If you must access a printer, use a thumb drive or other external storage device to minimize exposure.

Be wary of public charging stations. Cybercriminals can modify access points to install malware and download data through compromised USBs and other cords.

Physically Conceal and Secure Devices

Be mindful of how you carry and store your devices. Phones and devices that are visible in a bag or pocket may attract unwanted attention and make you a target. Opt for gear that fully closes, and be vigilant when setting down devices. Never turn your back, even on an idly charging device.

During airplane stretches and bathroom breaks, make sure your phone, tablet, and laptop are on your person or well secured. Make it a daunting challenge for someone to quickly access your devices. If a criminal can’t get to it quickly and easily, they’ll move on.

Cybersecurity Travel Checklist

Before you go

  • Back up important data
  • Ensure operating systems and anti-virus software are up to date
  • Protect accounts with strong passwords and multi-factor authentication

While traveling

  • Think before you click – Use caution when clicking on links, files, and emails
  • Avoid using public networks, devices, and cords
  • Keep devices physically secure
  • Do not share your travels online until you’ve safely returned home

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