Category: Compliance · 4 min read
Tips for Protecting Your Devices While Traveling
on December 27, 2018
on December 27, 2018
When you're on the road, whether you're traveling to see clients, attend seminars and conferences, or for your own pleasure, the data contained in your devices becomes more vulnerable to getting hacked. It’s easy to let your guard down when you travel, but when it comes to keeping your devices safe, staying on your guard can be key to keeping your data (and your clients’ data) from potentially getting exposed to hackers and preventing your devices from being stolen.
Here are some tips that might help mitigate some of the risk of traveling with your devices before you leave and while you’re away.
Before you go…
1. Make sure your software is current and is performing regular scans.
- It’s a good idea to check that your software is updated and that you have the most recent patches installed. The process to do this will vary by your device and software, but usually this can be found in your device’s settings. Check to make sure that the updates don’t have a high number of negative reviews and that they actually pertain to resolving security issues.
2. Disable Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and GPS applications when they are not needed.
- When your Bluetooth connectivity is enabled, anyone nearby could pick up the signal and gain access to your phone without you knowing it.
- Public Wi-Fi is inherently unsafe. When you connect to it, you can’t tell whether appropriate security measures are in place or not. If the person who set up the Wi-Fi network didn’t secure it, anyone on the network could potentially access your device.
- Hackers have the ability to use software that scans unsecured networks and looks for devices that have been left open, allowing them to gain access. So, limit your connections to unsecured and public networks, or don’t connect to them at all.
- There’s also the possibility that hackers have set up their own public Wi-Fi, and that allows them to gain access to any device that connects to it.
- Having your GPS on allows hackers to know when you are away from your home and where your device can be found. If you need directions, turn it on, however, once you’ve arrived at your location, it’s recommended you turn it back off until you get back home.
3. Set secure passwords, codes, and screen locks on each of your devices.
- Create passwords and codes that are difficult to guess and include numbers, letters, and unique characters (like: !@#$%^&*), when possible. Don’t use the same password for every device or application you have. Once a hacker has your password, they’ll have access to everything. It seems obvious, but it merits saying, that you should never keep your passwords on or with your device. If you need to write them down, keep them on you physically, so that only you have access to them.
4. Backup important information and data to a secure location. This should be in addition to performing regular scheduled backups.
While you’re away…
1. Don’t connect to free or public Wi-Fi, and only use password-protected networks.
- It’s a good rule of thumb to assume that networks other than your own are unsecured (especially in hotels, conference centers, restaurants, and cafes). Whenever possible, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to connect. A VPN encrypts data that enters or leaves your device, making it more difficult to be accessed by a malicious source.
2. Don’t access banking or other financial sites if it’s not necessary.
- Unless you have a need to check your bank account or credit card statements while traveling, it’s best to wait to do that until you’re back at home on your own, secure network.
3. Know where your devices are at all times.
- If you’re flying, you’ll more than likely have to go through a TSA search—meaning you’ll be separated from your laptop (likely all of your devices) at some point during the process. Make sure that you are aware of where your devices are, at all times. Distracted travelers are the perfect prey for hackers to snatch up unattended devices.
- Don’t leave your devices unsecured and unattended in your hotel room. If your room has a safe, use it to secure them whenever you leave your room. If there isn’t a safe in your room, many hotels have a safe available (usually at a cost) at the front desk. If your hotel doesn’t offer this type of service, consider taking your devices with you whenever you leave your room. Keeping them with you, at all times, is one way to mitigate the risk of having your information—and potentially your clients’ information—taken.
4. Don’t install software patches or updates while you’re away.
- It’s possible that they could be malware disguised as updates. It’s best to wait until you’re done traveling and back on your secured network to install any patches or updates.
5. Don’t allow anyone else to access your computer.
- Allowing someone to use your phone to make a “quick call” or to jump on your laptop to “check on something quick” gives them the opportunity to access data on your device. It’s generally a good idea to limit access to your devices to your own personal use only.
While following these tips can’t guarantee that you won’t have information taken or a device compromised, following multiple safety steps combined can help reduce your risk of getting hacked in the first place.
If you have questions regarding this or other compliance-related issues, contact us. As your partner, we’ll assist you in building and protecting your practice.
For Financial Professional use only, not for use with the general public. #18-0887-122619
This information is intended for Financial Professionals who are insurance licensed only. If you are securities licensed please contact your Broker Dealer for their requirements.
These educational pieces are intended to be informative and provide generalized guidance. They should not be construed as legal advice or provide protection against compliance violations brought on by a consumer or state insurance commission. It is the sole responsibility of the financial professional to seek compliance or legal direction specific to their individual situation. These pieces should be used as a means to raise awareness and evaluate business practices.
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