Security Tips For Business Travellers

Corporate data is particularly at risk on business trips: With the growing networking, data thieves are constantly finding new ways to obtain sensitive data and technological know-how from business travellers.

According to the central lost property office, around 175,000 laptops disappear every year at Europe’s eight largest airports. While the material damage is usually limited, the loss of data can be very expensive – especially if personal data is involved. Since the DSGVO came into force on 25 May, companies have been threatened with considerable liability risks if data protection rights are violated.

Espionage and targeted data theft represent a further risk for business travellers. According to the BVSW study Future Report of November 2017, almost one third of the companies surveyed were already affected by espionage and information leakage. It is much easier to spy on employees while travelling than it is in the office at home. In addition, common encryption methods in various countries now pose a problem when entering the country. Good preparation and accurate travel planning are therefore all the more important. The following tips can help to protect your data when travelling:

Take only the most important devices with you

What doesn’t travel can’t get lost: Before you leave, plan which hardware you really need and always pack the media in the same place. Develop a short routine that allows you to check whether all data carriers are still on board at every change of location – before leaving the aircraft, taxi or hotel room. And never let your smartphone and laptop out of your sight.

Sensitive data in the cloud

“Less is more” also applies to the accompanying data. While in the past good encryption was seen as a suitable means against data theft, this measure can now lead to problems when entering some countries. US border officials, for example, have the right to check laptops and smartphones when entering the country and to request a password for this purpose. How the country of destination handles encrypted data should in any case be checked before departure. Information can be found on the website of the Federal Foreign Office. Instead of taking company data encrypted on the end device, it should be stored in a secure cloud. For frequent travelers, it is also worth purchasing second devices on which only the most necessary data for the respective trip is stored.

Caution with travel apps

As a navigation aid at the point of use, for booking rental cars or for check-in support: Travel apps are also enjoying growing popularity among business travellers. As with all other apps, caution is advised. In addition to the desired convenience, some apps can also deliver malicious software and allow unauthorized persons access to sensitive company data. In principle, only apps from well-known developers should be used. The German Travel Association, for example, offers guidance on travel apps for business travellers on its website chefsache-businesstravel.de.

Do not use public WLAN

The use of public WLANs is still fraught with risks: Unencrypted networks enable data streams to be read or malware to be introduced. Especially abroad, the authenticity of hotspots is no longer traceable for many users. By cleverly falsifying hotspots, hackers can gain access to data of bona fide users. On business trips, the WLAN interface of the device should therefore be deactivated and a UMTS stick used to connect to the Internet.

Sticking cameras to mobile devices

Long smiled at as a sign of paranoia, the masking of webcams by well-known personalities became socially acceptable. Mark Zuckerberg, Edward Snowden and even the former head of the FBI, cover the cameras of their mobile devices. And the gentlemen know why: In the past, hackers have repeatedly managed to gain access to the cameras of laptops or smartphones and to film the environment without the affected person noticing anything about it. If a user uses his or her device for business purposes, unauthorized persons may gain access to trade secrets by recording meetings and conversations. Taping his webcam is therefore a sensible precaution. Use a sliding sticker so you can easily join the next Skype conference.

Insert privacy films

Those who use their laptops in the business lounge at the airport or in the hotel lobby are inadequately protected from the eyes of unauthorized persons. A privacy film is suitable to prevent data from being read. These films are available in stores and reduce the viewing angle of the screen. In most cases, the viewing angle is limited from 180 to around 60 degrees. Many films only protect the screen to the left and right, which is sufficient in most cases. Even if the brightness of a screen is set to a high level, the effect of the privacy film can diminish.

Hide secret data

Sometimes it is unavoidable to take certain data with you on your journey. If the destination country is critical about encryption, another way to hide the data must be found. A comparatively simple method is steganography. With this technique, data can be camouflaged behind image or sound files. At first glance, it is not clear whether there are other files behind it. A specialist will notice a change in the file during the check, but he cannot read the hidden data without knowledge of the program used and the assigned password.

Keep backup and security software up to date

Even more important, of course, for daily work and on the road: all data that go with you on your travels should be backed up and stored in the cloud or on a USB stick. If the mobile device gets lost despite all precautionary measures, you need to be able to continue working quickly. Therefore, back up the operating system and all computer settings separately from the data. The security software should also be checked for up-to-dateness before departure and set higher than for the daily work in the office.

On the road on behalf of a company: tips for your first business trip

In most industries, business trips at home and abroad are the order of the day. If you are going on a business trip for the first time, you should be well prepared and plan your stay carefully. Read how to do it here.

Collect important documents for the business trip

Your flight and your hotel are booked – here we go. So that you are well prepared for your business trip, prepare all important documents in advance. This includes:

  • personal travel documents such as your identity card, driving licence or visa,
  • Reservation confirmations for flight, train or rental car as well as for your accommodation,
  • business documents for the scheduled meetings and events.
  • If your company organizes your business trip for you, you don’t usually need to worry about transportation and accommodation. Make sure, however, that your travel documents are valid.

For example, if you need a visa, your employer must apply for one at least three months in advance. In order to drive a rental car abroad, you will need an international driving licence and, under certain circumstances, car insurance. As your employer has a duty of care towards you, he must also guarantee your health insurance cover abroad.

Keep documents safe and at hand

Take copies of all important documents separate from the originals with you on your business trip. It is best to use different folders in which you collect your personal documents, travel documents and business documents. After your arrival, keep the originals in a safe in your accommodation and carry only the copies with you.

Important: Store booking numbers and other important information in your mobile phone. For example, you can scan your travel documents and email them to yourself. So you have them ready to hand in case you lose your documents.

Large amounts of digital data such as presentations or lists are best stored on an external hard drive.

Choose the right piece of luggage

For your business trip, you need a suitable suitcase in which you can store your business outfits and important utensils. The luggage must not be too large or too small. If you have to stuff your clothes into it, there is a risk of unattractive wrinkles. If, on the other hand, too much space remains, the contents will slip.

Sit on a trolley or a hard case. The latter is characterised by an extremely robust material. Since you are travelling on behalf of a company, you should radiate seriousness. So do without a colourful model or one with stickers – choose one in grey or black. If you are only travelling for one or two days, a small trolley, for example, is a good idea, which you can take on board as hand luggage on flights.