21 Security Tips for Business Travelers

Whether your business travel takes you across the country or overseas for work, protect yourself and your company’s data with these tips from our experts.

Thursday, June 09, 2011
If you or your employees travel a lot, you know how difficult it is to keep a handle on security: The Bermuda Triangle that exists between the airport, hotel and taxicab or rental car can make thumb drives, smartphones and laptops mysteriously vanish. A moment of inattention can put your company’s proprietary secrets and other sensitive data at risk.

Follow these tips from our security experts, who are no strangers to life on the road.

For domestic and international trips:

  1. Learn your employer’s security practices. Many large companies offer security training for traveling executives. Take time to learn recommended practices. Store important company contact information in your laptop or PDA directory for ready access.
  2. Never travel with unencrypted documents. Encrypt data that contains anyone’s personally identifiable information (PII), confidential company information, intellectual property and trade secrets. Avoid carrying paper files with sensitive PII.
  3. Secure laptops and mobile devices. Don’t leave them unattended in airports, hotel rooms and conference areas. Store in a hotel safe or secure with a computer cable lock.
  4. Review service costs for cell phones, PDAs, laptops and AirCards. Be sure you understand the cost of domestic and international calls, as well as text and data costs. Consider opting for special programs available to frequent overseas travelers.
  5. Opt for a VoIP service as an emergency backup. Install and get familiar with a Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol service, such as Skype, on your computer or phone. If there’s an emergency, it’s a great way to speak or text with friends and relatives.
  6. Don’t connect to wireless networks with your mobile device or laptop. Bad guys can record conversations, capture passwords and even access your PC and install malware to locate banking and other sensitive information.
  7. Avoid using public computers, fax and copier machines. Computers may be compromised. Fax and copier machines often internally store information that can be reprinted. Use only secure machines to access and share sensitive information.
  8. Check your health insurance. Make sure your health insurance provider has overseas coverage. Identify medical resources available and options for treatment at your planned destinations. Most providers will not pay for evacuation costs from areas with inadequate medical facilities. Frequent international travelers may want to consider specialized medical insurance.
  9. Validate medications. Bring prescribed medications in their original containers and a letter from your doctor or a prescription validating that they are legitimate. Get the appropriate vaccinations. Pay attention to food, beverages, ice, sanitation and health issues.
  10. Bring a minimum of two credit cards. Notify the issuer of your travel plans and provide an emergency contact number. Keep the issuer’s overseas customer service number handy.
  11. Withdraw cash at major financial institutions. Use their ATMs after you inspect them for tampering, such as loose card slots or keypads.
  12. Arrange transportation in advance. Reserve reliable, trustworthy services when traveling from the airport to your hotel or business. This is critical in places with high crime rates and security issues.
  13. Make digital copies of important travel documents. This allows for easier replacement of a passport, visa and other documents if they’re stolen or missing. Consider posting in a secure online repository. Carry key identifying documents like your driver’s license and passport with you at all times.  
  14. Carry a portable, quality flashlight. A Mini-Mag or LED flashlight can come in handy during a travel emergency. Water resistance is a plus.
  15. Learn the hotel layout in the event of a fire. Hotel fires happen. Take a minute or two to locate the nearest fire extinguisher and emergency exit. Most hotels post evacuation information on mounted placards near elevators and/or stairwells.
  16. Shred boarding passes, itineraries and other paperwork that contain valuable information. Never throw these documents away. The information can be used to exploit your identity. For example, boarding passes contain names and frequent flyer numbers, which may be used with other data to access accounts with sensitive information.
  17. International: Get travel warnings and consular information. Visit the U.S. State Department’s travel website for comprehensive travel information, including the latest on your destination country.  
  18. Register with the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to document travel plans and emergency contacts and receive updates from U.S. embassies and consulates.
  19. Find out if corporate espionage is a risk. The State Department keeps tabs on which countries may visibly or surreptitiously attempt to copy and steal data.
  20. Check the destination country’s encryption protocols. Some countries prohibit the entry and/or use of computing, mobile and memory storage devices with certain types of encryption. Confirm what’s allowed with the State Department. Otherwise your equipment could be seized and data put at risk.  
  21. Check technology compatibility before your travel. For example, when traveling to the EU, you’ll want to make sure your phone uses Quad Band GSM technology. Often data service is less expensive via your provider plan than actual phone calls in the destination country. Pack compatible electrical plugs and adapters.

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